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Smart Grid Consortium to Develop Smart Grid City; Support for PHEVs with V2G Part of the Design

The Smart Grid Consortium, established in December 2007 by Xcel Energy, will select a mid-size community of approximately 100,000 residents to become a Smart Grid City: a testbed for emerging smart grid technologies and deployment strategies.

Potential benefits include lower bills; smarter energy management; better grid reliability; greater energy efficiency and conservation options; increased use of renewable energy sources; and support for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and intelligent home appliances.

The analog grid has served its purpose for the last half century, but the future requires an integrated, digital smart grid. This next-generation grid will allow customers to better manage their energy consumption while optimizing the grid through real-time generation management and distribution controls.

—Ray Gogel, CAO and vice president of customer and enterprise solutions of Xcel Energy

Current consortium members include Accenture, Current Group, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Ventyx.

The selected city will represent the consumer end of the smart grid, with a fully inter-connected system managing the various parts of the grid involved in producing power and delivering it to customers.

A number of technologies will be offered within Smart Grid City, including:

  • Transformation of existing metering infrastructure to a robust, dynamic communications network, providing real time, high-speed, two-way communication throughout the distribution grid.

  • Conversion of substations to “smart” substations capable of remote monitoring, near real-time data and optimized performance.

  • Installation of thousands of in-home control devices and the necessary systems to fully automate home energy use.

  • Integration of infrastructure to support up to 1,000 easily dispatched distributed generation technologies (including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid technology; battery systems; wind turbines; and solar panels).

Xcel Energy has narrowed the site location for Smart Grid City to several cities in its eight-state service territory. The Consortium will announce the selected city in March 2008 and begin the building phase in April 2008.




I manage my home A/C in a similar manner using the house itself as the heat sink. The previous residents had a simple one temperature setting thermostat and the A/C ran constantly. I installed a thermostat that allows setting multiple cooling periods. As the day heats up, the thermostat lets the house get a degree warmer every three hours then cools it down off-peak. Thanks to daylight savings time, I'm usually in bed before it's cool enough outside to open the windows.

Since the invention of A/C, I have serious doubts that DST saves energy. I'm very leery of a grid system that would be smart enough to decide for me what my furnace or A/C would be allowed to do.

Each time the thermostat kicks the temp up a degree the A/C takes a rest period that varies with the heat of the day but is often over an hour; then it cycles normally until the next warmer period starts. Ceiling fans keep the air moving and things stay reasonably comfortable.

I'm probably spending about half as much on A/C as the previous residents. Part of that is that I don't heat a house above 68F or cool it below 78F. There's a period of adjustment with each season change where 68 feels too cool and 78 feels too warm but you get used to it within a couple of weeks. I tell people to dress for the season and stay away from the thermostat.


John L. - indeed spot pricing would be a good way to let customers both purchase and sell energy. Thus, the customer sets a rate/price for recharging his battery pack and a rate to sell back to the grid. To further enable the smart elements, customers should be able to select the "vendor" or energy category from which they buy. So, greens can buy only renewables, moderates can buy a mix of renewable and price point, locals can support their community PV energy consortium by purchasing home and EV energy only from them.

The key is diversification of grid sources and resources. The diversity offers competitive pricing, competitive quality of service, a significant security improvement, support for new energy business (ie jobs). Too many "wins" to enumerate.


V2G for Dummies
In the morning you have X kwh in your EV.
You use up Y kwh driving to work, you need Y kwh to get back.
You now have X-2Y kwh of energy to play with.
If your place of work is properly equipped, you sell back
your energy at some $Rate/kwh to make Rate*(X-2Y) dollars.



Nice explanation of available power, but refer to Marcus's comment above. You wouldn't necessarily sell the excess power to the power company. You would sell them the right to take that much power IFF they needed it, i.e., replacement for spinning reserves. The power company saves power by not spinning a turbine somewhere just in case they need it to meet a demand surge.


Beacon Power (BCON) is a clean energy frequency regulation company. Check it out


Beacon Power (BCON) is a clean energy frequency regulation company. Check it out


An interesting scenario might occur when 50,000 cars are at a baseball game during the hot summer months. They are all doing V2G and the game is over so they all go home. Is this known in advance so the power company can plan for it?

If each car is giving 1kw then 50k cars would amount to 50mw. This is quite a blip in the grid flow. This is not likely to happen, but it is good to consider probable scenarios before jumping in.


I installed blue-tinted plastic on my south/west windows and reduced summertime electricity use. It wasn't that expensive. Let's say I buy a plug-in hybrid and sell peak afternoon electricity to the local utility that then sells it to all those who use air conditioners at that time - those who haven't invested in blue-tint window film to help cool their homes. Someday, they'll invest in window film and won't need the air conditioner and I'll go for an afternoon drive or watch a TV show for free.


It is best to use the most cost effective methods to reduce energy usage. It is the idea that in the summer, utilities have to fire up natural gas turbine peaker plants that are not the most efficient and are not fully loaded just to handle the peak load. Synchronizing the turn on and off of AC units would help a lot and power line networking could make that happen.


John L., You hit a very important point re battery (Jan 17, 2008). Stationary battery pack (UPS) makes more sense than V2G. Here in this forum I found everybody is talking about meeting the peak demand with small, distributed power sources. But, how about reducing (shaving) the peak demand itself? You can accomplish this by cutting off your house from the grid during peak hours and using the energy stored (at a reduced rate) in your stationary UPS.

V2G is impractical in two ways:
1) Coordinating tens of thousand vehicles to be connected to the grid is not easy. Besides, during the peak hours those commuter vehicles are most possibly away from their base (and being charged up!).
2) Small energy sources connected to the grid trying to send energy back is actually nuisance to the grid because of the Ferranti effect.

Therefore, why don’t we have a UPS of 16 KWH of usable capacity, for example, and charge it during 4 to 8 off-peak hours, and come 9 O’clock in the morning switch to this UPS to power our house for 8 hours or so cutting ourselves off from the grid. (You might need more storage if you keep AC on all the time.) If one million households in the southwestern states are off the grid during the peak hours this way, and if the demand per household is 2KW during peak hours in average, we are talking about 2GW of demand shaving, which makes V2G, roof-top solar panels and other small generators unnecessary.

If the automotive battery pack is small and cheap enough to be put in a commuter car, certainly we can make practical household UPS’s out of it. Also, we have to remember that in order to maintain all the generators in sync (voltage and frequency) utility companies dump great amount of energy into the ground during off-peak hours. Charging UPS’s during off-peak hours utilizes this otherwise wasted energy improving the bottom line of the utility companies, at the same time reducing CO2 and other emissions.


Could you or anyone else put together a chart showing at what point it becomes financially practical to do this (use a household UPS, charging at nighttime rates)? Considering current battery prices, longevity, etc. I've thought about this at length, but never put together the numbers.


By “financially practical” if you mean reducing the electricity bill today, what I suggested is NOT practical. For example, about 300 Makita Li-ion power tool batteries are needed to make a 16KWh battery pack (more than $40,000 retail). Let’s suppose the total cost of the UPS is $50,000 including associated electronics and installation, and your electrical usage is 1,000KWh/month @20 cents/KWh (on peak) and 5 cents/KWh (off peak), of which 400KWh is from the UPS. In this case your monthly bill will be $125 as against $200 without UPS. To recoup the $50,000 initial cost by this monthly saving of $75 you need 667 months or about 56 years even if the battery pack lasts that long. However, if the total cost of the UPS is reduced to $10,000, then the necessary time will become a little more than 11 years. Judging from the estimated life of Li-ion battery (10 years), $10,000 installed is the target price of the UPS to start, which is very achievable since many leading companies in the world are developing high-capacity, low-cost batteries (and capacitors) for the automotive use. It is said that GM’s Volt and Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV will be priced somewhere around $35,000, of which I think $10,000 or so should be the price of battery pack initially. With technology advancement and the effect of mass production the price should go down rapidly.

But, the purpose here is not save money. My point was that with the UPS to keep our fridge, stove, washer/dryer, lights, AC and electronics going OFF-GRID during peak hours we can help even out the peaks and valleys of power consumption, thereby reducing the burden put on the power plants during peak hours of the day. This also reduces the use of fossil fuels and harmful emissions.

It is very probable that this summer in Southern California there will be black/brownouts. Suppose if 1,000,000 households there are equipped with the UPS they should shave about 2GW of power from the peak demand, which is more than enough to save So. Cal. residents from misery. Roughly speaking it costs 2 billion dollars to build a 1GW nuke power plant. Even if the money is available, building new power plants (nuke or otherwise) in your backyard is getting very difficult because of environmental and safety concerns. It is much easier and faster to make and install 1 million UPS’s. I think the state and utility company will be happy to subsidize for the purchase of the UPS if they do not have to build new power plants.

Another important fact is that technology to improve solar cell efficiency is advancing rapidly. In fact, University of Delaware and DuPont announced that they have achieved more 40% efficiency (Efficiency of currently available solar cells is somewhere around 14%). The UPS is the answer to the unpredictable nature of the solar cells. If you have a 100 square foot solar panel (of 14% efficiency) on your roof, conservatively you can use/store 10 KWh (much more with the 40% efficiency panel) of power a day, enough (along with off-peak charging) to keep you off-grid most of time.


I guess it is "Boulder" that Xcel energy has chosen for the deployment of the "smartgrid".

The best thing about auto tint is it inexpensive to have installed

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