Energy technology coalition formed to develop San Diego smart grid


Michael R. Niggli,
San Diego, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — September 18, 2009 – A coalition of 25 local, national and global organizations under the leadership of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), University of California, San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego has been established to transform the San Diego region’s electrical grid into a digital smart grid.

The coalition will, in part, create a community-scale utility system within the region that can interconnect greater percentages of renewable generation at both the distribution and transmission system levels, store electricity and use automated sensors and communication technologies to help manage these intermittent energy resources. The coalition also will focus on accommodating a growing number of electric vehicles and empower customers to exert greater control over their own energy usage with the most advanced technology. If successful, the prototype project could be recreated on a larger scale anywhere in the world.

To help fund the project the coalition is seeking $100 million from the smart grid funding in the U.S. economic stimulus package.

“Realizing the benefits of the smart grid is more than just a high-tech experiment,” said Michael R. Niggli, chief operations officer of SDG&E. “SDG&E was the first utility in the continental United States to agree to generate 33 percent of our electricity from renewable resources by 2020, and the smart grid will help pave the way to this goal and develop a more sustainable energy future for all of us.”

“Where many utilities are looking to launch smart grid technology, SDG&E and UC San Diego have been working together for years and are already implementing it,” said Byron Washom, director of strategic energy initiatives at UC San Diego. “We have all of the elements staged to make this regional demonstration replicable on a national and international scale.”

“Greater interaction among all the stakeholders is essential to the success of the smart grid,” said Lisa Bicker, president of CleanTECH San Diego. “By leveraging San Diego’s strong history of collaboration we will enable new products, services and markets to fuel an economic engine in San Diego and beyond. In addition, we will bring new clean technology jobs and export opportunities to our region.”
San Diego is one of the most “wired” cities in the country with more tech-savvy customers than most cities. A smart grid would enable SDG&E customers to utilize a smart grid to control their energy usage.

In addition to SDG&E, UC San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego, the organizations in the San Diego regional smart grid project include IBM, GE, Cisco, Intel, Balance Energy – a BAE Systems Initiative, SAIC, Qualcomm, BMC Software, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc., S&C Electric Company, Itron, The Valley Group – a Nexans company, On-Ramp Wireless, Plug Smart, Tradescape and the San Diego Workforce Partnership.

Integral to the team will be the research and development resources at UC San Diego, University of California, Los Angeles and the “Energy Policy Initiatives Center” based at the University of San Diego School of Law. Supporters include the California Independent System Operator, California Energy Commission, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 465, and global support from Alliander in the Netherlands and North Delhi Power Limited.