Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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Smart Grid Press Releases

  • Snohomish PUD Completes Fiber Upgrade on Time, Under Budget
    1/4/2011

    Smarter Power Systems

    Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) recently completed the first major project as part of a multi-year effort to upgrade its electric grid with smart grid technology – on time and under budget. The utility has installed about 163 miles of fiber optic cable connecting its final set of 62 substations, two radio sites and utility buildings. The project is supported by $15.8 million in matching federal stimulus dollars under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. The savings in the first project will help pay for other smart grid components.

    “This is a critical milestone as we build infrastructure for a smarter grid,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “We’ve created a fiber ring connecting all of our substations with our corporate center. These technology upgrades will provide additional system capabilities for measuring, monitoring and controlling power via robust two-way communications. Everything we’re doing is moving toward architecture to support smarter systems.”

    The fiber installation is the first of several projects that will eventually include automation of substations, a Distribution Management System and a Distribution Automation demonstration area in one of the communities it serves. By 2012, the demonstration will allow the PUD to test automated line switches, capacitor banks, protection devices and other equipment. It’s designed to automatically re-route power and isolate problem areas during power outages, reducing the number of outages and the duration of those outages for customers.

    In the future, the PUD’s technology upgrades will allow its customers to monitor their real-time energy use on their computer online or via a smart phone. It will help them obtain more detailed storm outage information. Additionally, customers will be able to better plan their consumption and incorporate small-scale generating sources, such as solar, into their energy supply.

    With more customers generating their own power, from sources such solar, an upgraded grid will provide a better means for power to be used closer to the place where it’s actually being created, reducing line losses.  In addition, it will enable better integration of electric vehicles as they gain popularity in communities throughout the PUD service area.

    Additional system upgrades would allow the PUD to pursue other features, such as advanced metering to take advantage of new technologies including smart appliances, smart water heaters, dynamic pricing and other opportunities.

  • Snohomish PUD Nets $15.8 Million for Smart Grid
    10/27/2009

    Federal Stimulus Funds to Create Green Jobs, Strengthen Electrical System

    Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) today announced that it will receive $15.8 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to embark on a major smart grid technology upgrade, which will create a stronger, more efficient and reliable electrical system. The grant will allow the utility to install a new 156-mile state-of-the-art fiber system and bring up to 76 green jobs to Western Washington. Installation and testing will begin in early 2010.

    “This Smart Grid Technology investment award will help Snohomish PUD lay the foundation for a modernized grid system that will enable greater efficiencies and the integration of a diversified portfolio of clean new renewable energy sources,” said PUD General Manager Steve Klein. “Governor Gregoire and the Northwest Congressional delegation have been at the forefront of this effort that not only puts us on the best path for the future but will also put jobs on the street as we begin construction on this important infrastructure.”

    The funds will support the installation of a smart grid framework on the utility side, including a digital telecommunications network, substation automation and a robust distribution system infrastructure. It will connect to 62 substations, two radio sites and PUD buildings. It will allow for future smart grid technologies, such as smart meters, which will help the utility and its customers manage power consumption, plan their energy use and ultimately reduce green house gases.

    “Snohomish PUD’s project will accomplish a key objective of the state’s energy strategy – improving our electrical grid in order to integrate clean energy sources, empowering more energy efficient use and opening the door for other clean energy technology like plug-in electric vehicles,” said Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. “The PUD has emerged as a strong leader in the research and development of clean energy resources. I am pleased this funding will further its efforts to effectively integrate renewable energy into the smart grid.”

    “Investments in smart grid technology will create good jobs right here in Washington state and will help reduce energy costs for families and businesses,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). “These funds will help Washington state remain at the forefront of the clean-energy economy and will help keep our power grid reliable and secure.”

    “The nation’s electricity grid is starting to show its age and is straining to meet an ever-increasing demand,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA). “This funding represents a real commitment by the federal government to infuse intelligence into our electricity grid to make it more efficient and reliable and empower homeowners and businesses to reduce electricity costs and create high-paying, long-term jobs.”

    “Building a smart grid and using smarter energy is just smart money,” said Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA). “Washington state has been at the forefront of new energy technology and today’s grants are further evidence of that. SnoPUD has been a terrific partner in these efforts. Their work developing an intelligent distribution grid will lower energy consumption, reduce green house gases, and result in real savings for working families.”

    “The Department of Energy’s Smart Grid award will create good-paying jobs and help Snohomish County PUD reduce pollution,” said U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA), who wrote a letter in support of Snohomish PUD’s application for Smart Grid funds. “This is another example of how the stimulus package is putting Americans to work and building a foundation for future economic growth in our region.”

    Smart grid technology also will provide a means for the PUD to better integrate into its electrical system a broad range of locally-generated renewable energy resources, such solar, biomass, low-impact hydropower and geothermal. The utility is actively involved in the research and development of renewable energy resources in Western Washington.

    The grant for the PUD smart grid initiative is one of only two in Washington state; the other grant was awarded to Spokane’s Avista Utilities. The grants are part of a larger $3.4 billion ARRA smart grid investment aimed at promoting energy-savings for consumers, increasing efficiency and fostering the growth of renewable energy sources.