Smart Circuits – Smart Grid

    Initiatives to provide energy efficient or renewable energy-based products and service and reductions in energy requirements as a result of these initiatives

    Avista has been chosen to receive approximately $20 million in matching grant funds from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for a project to upgrade portions of the utility’s electric distribution system to smart grid standards. We will contribute about $22 million to the cost of the project.

    The intent of the project is to improve approximately 58 electric distribution facilities know as “feeders” in the Spokane area. We are already at work on a pilot project that is intended to reduce energy losses from electric lines, improve reliability and increase efficiency in the feeder system. The outcome of this work should result in a reduction in the need for new energy sources and a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. As planned, the work we are doing will prepare the system for tomorrow’s technologies that will allow more participation from customers in managing their energy use.

    • The project must be completed in three years. It is expected to create about 45 green jobs and provide an estimated $30 million in local spending on materials.
    • By reducing energy losses the project could save system costs and reduce carbon emissions by approximately 15,000 tons per year.
    • Long term benefits include enhancing our system’s performance with improved efficiency, greater reliability and system security.
    • Leveraging the stimulus money will result in reduced pressure on customer rates, making costs for the improvements lower than they would have been without stimulus funding.

    In a second DOE matching grant project, Avista plans to partner with leaders in the research and development of power technology to pilot the first “smart city” in the Pacific Northwest. We intend to install and test intelligent technology from the generating plant to the home in Pullman, Wash., to learn first-hand how smart our system can be and how to best help our customers make use of the insight they will receive about their own energy use.


    Transmission and distribution losses as a percentage of total energy:

    • Transmission – 3 percent losses based on our filings to the FERC.
    • Distribution – 4 percent to 6 percent, based on customers’ use, and the age and configuration of the distribution system in question.