Texas utility increases reliability with smart grid project

CenterPoint installs   more than 2.3 million smart meters under DoE funded smart grid project
CenterPoint has installed more than 2.3 million smart meters under a DoE-funded smart grid project

In the US, Texas-based electric and natural gas utility CenterPoint Energy has completed a five-year Intelligent Grid project, which has propelled the energy company forward to “lead in smart grid technology”.

CenterPoint Energy has reported “significant improvements in reliability” following the project supported by the Department of Energy (DoE).

The US Department of Energy’s undersecretary for Science and Energy, Dr. Franklin Orr, said: “Houston’s grid is more resilient and more efficient and enhances consumer experience, all at the same time.”

CenterPoint Energy was one of six utilities awarded the maximum grant (US$200m) from the DoE in 2009 for the acceleration of smart meter deployment and Intelligent Grid implementation.

Out of the US$200m grant, US$150m was used toward smart meter deployment and US$50m used towards the implementation of the Intelligent Grid system.

In a media press statement, Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of Electric Operations for CenterPoint Energy, said: “Through these advancements in smart grid technology, made possible in part by the Department of Energy, we have seen significant improvement in reliability, are able to provide better service to customers and improve air quality in our community.

“This is a large step forward for CenterPoint Energy and will provide the basis for long-term advancements in how we operate our system.”

Smart grid rollout

Through the project, the Texan utility has to date, installed more than 2.3 million smart meters throughout the company’s 5,000 square mile service area (12,949 km), including the greater Houston area.

The smart meter installation prompted more than 400,000 customers to enrol in the company’s Power Alert Service.

Other results and milestones include: executing more than 11 million electronic service orders, vehicle fuel savings of more than 1 million gallons, avoidance of more than 9,300 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

CenterPoint was also able to restore power to nearly 1.2 million customers without a phone call, avoid more than 102 million customer outage minutes and improve power reliability by 28% when using the Intelligent Grid in 2014.

Advanced distribution management system

The electricity and natural gas provider recently deployed an Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS), which will use “real-time smart meter and Intelligent Grid switching device data to better plan, engineer and operate the grid.”

The ADMS will provide accurate information on outage, reduce outage duration and improve overall reliability and service.