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Smart Circuits Project

Communication and automation are key elements in updating our aging grid to support the technologies of today and tomorrow. Ultimately, this work will result in greater energy efficiency in our delivery of energy, which slows the need for new generation facilities and can more easily allow integration of distributed renewable generation resources.

Avista’s Smart Circuits project is upgrading electric facilities in the Spokane area with the help of federal stimulus funding.  In 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Avista $20 million in investment grant funds, the largest matching smart grid investment grant in Washington.  Avista is contributing $22 million for a total planned project investment of $42 million.

The funding allows us to accelerate the pace of upgrades we have planned. Over a two-year period we’ll deploy a distribution management system, intelligent end devices and a communications system that will benefit more than 110,000 electric customers in Spokane. The project is intended to reduce energy losses, lower system costs, and improve reliability and efficiency in the electricity distribution system. Customers should see fewer and shorter outages.

The project involves:

  • Upgrading 59 distribution circuits and 14 substations throughout Spokane
  • Install smart switches, smart re-closers and smart capacitor banks
  • Adding nearly 400 automated devices on Spokane’s distribution system

Some other things to know:

  • Smart switches automatically reroute power around an outage.
  • Smart regulators, switched capacitor banks adjust voltage for greater energy efficiency.
  • Wireless communication throughout the system keeps operations at optimal efficiency.

The smart grid capabilities that we’re currently building into our system today will eventually allow customers to manage their energy use tomorrow. The system efficiencies will save about 42,000 Megawatt hours per year. That’s enough energy to power 3,500 homes, nearly half the population of Sandpoint, Idaho. The project will also prevent more than 14,000 tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere from power generation.

Find additional Information on federally funded projects.

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