US utility Duke Energy secured an approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to implement a new smart energy infrastructure in Indiana.In a press statement, the utility company said the new grid infrastructure will be established to power more than 800,000 homes, businesses and industries in the US state.
The plan came into existence following an agreement between the utility and multiple stakeholders in the state’s power landscape, to implement a seven-year project, combining various advanced technologies and grid infrastructure to enhance customer services.
The firms included the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, Steel Dynamics, Wabash Valley Power Association, Indiana Municipal Power Agency, Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative and the Environmental Defense Fund.
[quote] Melody Birmingham-Byrd, president of Duke Energy in Indiana, said: "We have an aging energy grid - some equipment that is decades old - and our work will focus on replacing some older infrastructure to reduce power outages. [Sierra Wireless-Duke Energy team on microgrid tech pilot].
"We'll also be building a smarter energy structure with technology to provide the type of information and services that consumers have come to expect," added Byrd.
Duke Energy revised and filed the proposal in December, 2015 following its denial in May 2015.
Smart energy project funding
Some of the revised contents of the proposal include a reduction in the firm’s capital investments from US$1,8 billion to US$1,4 billion.
The utility said it will use the capital to fund the installation of smart meters and will retain the funding from consumers’ monthly energy bills.
The implementation of the smart energy plan will result in Duke Energy increasing its customers energy bills by an average of 0.75 percent per year between 2017 and 2022.
The utility said when implemented, the project will improve grid reliability as a result of the replacement of aging infrastructure with new ones. The plan aims to lower power outages by installing self-healing systems and improved customer information communications platforms. [Duke Energy seeks 6% rate hike for grid refurb].
The project will also install energy saving technology that optimizes voltage and reduces overall power consumption by about 1 percent on upgraded power lines.
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