Smart grid for the U.S. Southeast gets the go ahead


Alex Domijan,
Director, University
of South Florida
Power Center for
Tampa, FL, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) —March 11, 2009 – The University of South Florida’s Power Center for Utility Explorations and Progress Energy Florida have been selected by Florida’s Energy and Climate Commission to build the largest and most comprehensive smart grid in the Southeast, serving at least 5,000 customers on the west side of St Petersburg and St Pete Beach.

The three-year, $15 million project will incorporate alternative energy sources such as solar power and biodiesel fuel into the electrical power supply. Incorporating cutting edge technology, the program aims to develop a system that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create a power supply that better adapts to energy demands and one which serves customers with better reliability and efficiency.

USF’s proposal was chosen from a field of 140 applicants. The project is funded in collaboration between the Governor’s Energy Office, Progress Energy Florida, Publix, and HD Supply. Development of the system is slated to begin in April.

“This is a great win for our country and USF in particular, and is one that we have been working on for many years to form flexible, reliable and intelligent electric energy delivery systems to benefit the public and nation,” said Alex Domijan, principal investigator on the project and the director of the Power Center for Utility Explorations. “Smart grids are one way to develop a system that is flexible, with a different portfolio of energy sources, that’s able to survive natural and man-made disasters and one which people can manage their accounts by themselves.”

Once developed, the smart grid will be the first in Florida and one of the largest in the nation. Unlike systems in other cities that implement elements of smart grid technology, Domijan said the USF project will be a fully integrated system of renewable energy sources, advanced sensors, communication and control technologies and two-way communication between utilities and customers while producing a more reliable and higher quality power system.

Among the more novel approaches in the project will be the participation of Florida grocery giant, Publix, which will take on the role of an energy supplier as well as consumer by contributing biodiesel energy into the grid.

The hope is that the project will open the door to a larger, more expansive smart grid in the Tampa Bay region and elsewhere in the United States.