Energy for a Smart Future
In the United States we use 14 times more electricity today than we did 50 years ago, but our
electric grid is nearly the same as when it was built over a century ago. When you flip the switch, you expect power to come on, and in order to maintain that reliability and meet growing demand Avista must invest in updating poles, wires and technology in our system. Like utilities across the country, it’s critical that we update our aging grid to be smarter and to support technologies of today and tomorrow.
Avista has several projects, funded with federal stimulus moneys from the Department of Energy and matching funds from Avista and cost-share partners, that will prepare our region for a transition of the electrical grid to a “smart grid” by:
- Upgrading electrical facilities and automating the electrical distribution system to support digital, intelligent devices and two-way communication between the utility and all parts of the grid
- Developing our workforce with training programs for building and implementing smart grid technologies
- Building local and regional partnerships as we build our energy future
Avista Power Lab aims to prepare students for a smarter grid.
A five-year pledge commitment totaling $325,000 from Avista Corp. will support research innovation and better prepare Washington State University students for new Smart Grid technologies.
Avista’s pledge will support WSU’s newly formed Energy Systems Innovation Center as well as WSU’s undergraduate power engineering curriculum, including the purchase of state-of-the-art technology for the power engineering lab.
Pullman Smart Grid Demonstration ProjectAvista has joined with regional utilities, led by Battelle NW, to demonstrate smart grid technologies using matching stimulus monies from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Spokane Smart Circuits Project
Avista is upgrading electrical facilities and automating the electrical distribution system in Spokane.
Work Force TrainProjecting
Avista will partner with several utilities and colleges in the region to develop a smart grid workforce training program over the next three years
What is the smart grid?
We see the smart grid as a more efficient and effective electricity infrastructure that can help contain costs, reduce emissions, incorporate renewable energy, increase power grid reliability and provide greater flexibility for consumers. Over the long-term, it could modernize our traditional, one-way power delivery system to an automated, two-way exchange of information and multi-directional power flow, making the following benefits possible:
System improvements can help us reduce waste and increase efficiency in the delivery of power.
- Less waste from lost power as it moves through the transmission and distribution system helps reduce operating costs and conserves power to help meet demand.
Reliability/minimizing the impact of outages
- Automated technology can detect and isolate outages on the system or at the customer’s home, saving time and reducing outage frequency and length for customers.
Customer Energy Management
- Two-way communications can enable customers to actively monitor and manage their energy usage and make more informed decisions about choices that drive energy efficiency and costs.
- A smart system can help balance non-variable power with variable renewable power, such as wind and solar, when those resources are available.
- Distributed generation is more easily integrated into a system of multi-directional power flow.
- More efficient delivery means we can provide power to more customers with fewer carbon emissions, reducing our carbon footprint.