U.S. electric coops launch nationwide smart grid demonstration project


Glenn English,
Arlington, VA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — August 5, 2010 – Nineteen electric cooperatives across the United States are set to embark on a nationwide demonstration project deploying more than 153,000 smart grid components across the country to test the value of the new technologies for cooperative consumer members.

The project was awaiting final approval of a $33.9 million smart grid stimulus award to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association from the Department of Energy, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The total project cost is over $67.8 million.

“Cooperatives lead the industry in the deployment of smart meter infrastructure and can help drive the effort to modernize the nation’s electrical system using new technologies,” said NRECA CEO, Glenn English. “Our cooperatives will be evaluating how and whether these technologies can assist them in their mission to provide safe, reliable and affordable electric power to their member-consumers.”

Electric distribution cooperatives, which range in size from a few hundred to more than 200,000 meters, will evaluate potential benefits of new technologies that could help increase operational efficiencies and improve service, while on the other side of the meter they will also test new programs that help consumers manage electric bills.

Technologies will include over 130,000 meters, 18,000 demand response switches, nearly 4,000 in-home displays or smart thermostats, and others including voltage sensors and fault detectors. The demonstration data will be centralized for all sites and include studies on total demand, distributed energy resources, peak pricing, customer appliance control, and self-healing technologies for improved reliability.

The cooperatives are well positioned to advance the implementation of a smart grid, the NRECA said in a statement. According to the Association’s research approximately half of cooperatives have installed at least some advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) on their systems, and some 30 percent have begun to integrate their AMI with other systems on their grid.

The cooperatives’ demonstration project represents the first opportunity to conduct a nationwide pilot extending and testing end-to-end connectivity – from the power plant to the consumer’s home – and interoperability using MultiSpeak®, a specification developed by NRECA through the MultiSpeak Initiative. The project will extend the MultiSpeak specification to new functions and applications and include cybersecurity in the testing process. Cyber security consultants SAIC and Cigital will work with the cooperatives to explore security issues surrounding enhanced interoperability and connectivity.

The participating cooperatives across ten states are:

  • Adams Electric Cooperative, Menard Electric Cooperative (IL)
  • Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative (WI)
  • Clarke Electric Cooperative, Inc., Consumers Energy, Corn Belt Power Cooperative, Calhoun County Electric Cooperative Association (Corn Belt Power Member), Humboldt County Rural Electric Cooperative (Corn Belt Power Member), Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative (Corn Belt Power Member), Prairie Energy Cooperative (Corn Belt Power Member) ( IA)
  • Delaware County Electric Co-op (NY)
  • Flint EMC, Snapping Shoals EMC (GA)
  • Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (HI)
  • New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NH)
  • Owen Electric Cooperative, Inc., Salt River Electric Cooperative (KY)
  • United REMC (IN)
  • Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative (LA)

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.