Much has been said about smart grid technology and its potential for efficient power management. Up to this point, the emphasis has been on potential.
Taking the concept one step further, one utility in Florida has put talk into action. In April, Florida Power & Light (FP&L) announced the completion of an ambitious grid-modernization project that essentially converts its entire service area to a smart grid.
FP&L has installed 4.5 million smart meters in its 35-county service area, but the smart grid is about much more than just meters. FP&L also completed a grid modernization that deploys state-of-the art technologies to its facilities and transmission infrastructure. The upgrades include wireless communications, new software and new automation technologies.
FP&L identifies several benefits of the project, which the company describes as “one of the most ambitious that has ever been undertaken in the country.” The benefits include real-time information on the health and performance of the grid; the ability to identify outages, diagnose their cause and restore power quickly; verification that power has been restored; early warnings of power issues to enable rerouting electricity around trouble spots; remote communications; and greater information to consumers about their energy use to help them conserve power.
The project commenced in 2009 and, according to FP&L, was completed nine months ahead of schedule. It was one of only six projects to receive a $200 million grant from the Department of Energy. FP&L invested another $600 million into the project.