May 2017 (4)
August 2016 (2)
May 2016 (1)
March 2016 (1)
February 2016 (1)
January 2016 (1)
December 2015 (1)
October 2015 (1)
August 2015 (1)
June 2015 (1)
May 2015 (1)
February 2015 (1)
January 2015 (1)
November 2014 (2)
October 2014 (2)
September 2014 (6)
August 2014 (1)
July 2014 (5)
June 2014 (1)
March 2014 (3)
February 2014 (2)
January 2014 (1)
November 2013 (3)
October 2013 (1)
August 2013 (3)
July 2013 (4)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (2)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (4)
December 2012 (6)
November 2012 (9)
October 2012 (10)
September 2012 (9)
August 2012 (14)
July 2012 (17)
June 2012 (14)
May 2012 (13)
April 2012 (18)
March 2012 (14)
February 2012 (10)
January 2012 (12)
December 2011 (8)
November 2011 (11)
October 2011 (10)
September 2011 (13)
August 2011 (10)
July 2011 (6)
June 2011 (12)
May 2011 (8)
April 2011 (8)
March 2011 (9)
February 2011 (6)
January 2011 (9)
December 2010 (8)
November 2010 (17)
October 2010 (8)
September 2010 (12)
August 2010 (15)
July 2010 (10)
June 2010 (15)
May 2010 (9)
April 2010 (11)
March 2010 (13)
February 2010 (10)
January 2010 (14)
December 2009 (14)
November 2009 (10)
October 2009 (17)
September 2009 (20)
August 2009 (18)
July 2009 (22)
June 2009 (12)
Answering Questions
Avista Utilities
Clark Fork
Community Service
Customer Service
Energy Assistance
Energy Efficiency
Environment Facts
Hydro power
Infrastructure upgrades
Lake Coeur d'Alene
Natural Gas
Power Outages
Reliability Facts
Renewable Energy
Renewable Facts
Smart Grid
Spokane River

Smart grid details: Spokane’s smart circuits   

Tags: Electricity, Energy Efficiency, Power Outages, Smart Grid

Yesterday we announced that Avista has applied for federal funds under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for the first of two smart grid electric distribution projects. Read yesterday’s blog post here. This means we’re working to lay the groundwork for smart grid’s technological advances in the future while making our electric distribution system more efficient and reliable today.

In the last post I promised to provide a few details about this first project. Here goes. We’re calling the Spokane smart grid project, Smart Circuits. In a nutshell, the project would dramatically upgrade electric distribution lines, known as “feeders” in the Spokane area. To understand how this work qualifies as “smart grid,” a little Electric Grid 101 is in order.

Let’s consider efficiency first. When electricity is made at a dam or wind turbine, it doesn’t go directly to your house. It twists and turns through transmission lines (big ones), into substations and then distribution lines (littler ones) and eventually to you. Electricity could travel hundreds of miles. During this marathon run, some of its energy is lost. This project would reduce losses – saving ratepayer dollars. It would also reduce carbon emissions by about 15,000 tons per year. This reduction is based on less electricity needing to be produced for the same electric demand.

Now let’s think of reliability. For simplicity sake, assume that if a tree falls on the power line that feeds your neighborhood, everyone who gets power through that line, loses power. We send out a crew to fix it and your lights get turned back on. This might take a few hours, depending on your location and the severity of the damage to the line. Many people are impacted from one small incident on the line.

Now imagine if the power lines were smart enough to know where that tree fell and the system could isolate the issue, and leave most, if not all, of your neighborhood’s power on. The system could do this in seconds. This would be a much better solution for everyone. By installing sensors, capacitors, automatic switches and replacing aging equipment like transformers, this scenario is possible.

Why it’s really smart now
While there are many companies currently researching and developing new technologies that will allow energy users (you) to have more active participation with energy providers (us), through the grid – mass implementation is years out for sure. You can’t just stick a new device in your house and expect to become part of the smart grid. Your utility needs to ensure the grid is equipped with technology and communication equipment to make it happen. Getting our grid ready today means we’ll be ready when future smart grid interactions become reality.

We’ll continue to update the blog about smart grid issues as news breaks, but if you have any questions in the meantime, submit a comment below.
Posted by  System Account  on  8/4/2009
0  Comments  | 0  Links to this post | Bookmark this post with:          


Add a Comment

We encourage comments on this blog, but this is a family friendly conversation, so please check out our discussion guidelines so we’re all on the same page. By submitting a comment, you agree to these terms and our Privacy Policy.  

Customers must have a My Account and be logged in to comment.
Login to My Account | Create My Account


We're hopeful that this space will encourage thought provoking and informative community discussions about issues related to our products and services. Currently you must be an Avista customer to participate in the conversation, but stay tuned. In the coming weeks we'll also provide an opportunity for non-customers to participate in this forum.