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Spokane-based Avista Utilities will install Tropos Networks’ wireless network as one of the key parts of its “smart grid” system, the company announced Tuesday. Tropos, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., will provide Avista with its GridCom two-way communications capability. The wireless network will be the two-way foundation that will help deliver messages and data reports across the entire Avista power distribution system.
Malcolm Unsworth is the president and CEO of Itron Inc., the Inland Northwest’s largest publicly traded company, measured by market value. He took over the reins last year and has traveled the world boosting the company’s sales in automated meters, software and consulting services. Its customers are gas, electric and water utilities. In 2009 his job had him traveling away from Spokane 188 days. Q.What does Smart Grid involve and why should people care about it?
Avista Corp. will lead a $38 million “smart grid” demonstration project in Pullman that will upgrade the electric distribution system to the city of 27,600 people. Smart grids make the distribution system more reliable and energy efficient, said Hugh Imhof, an Avista spokesman. If a car hits a power pole in the middle of the night, for example, switches on the smart grid can reroute the electrical flow within seconds so that a minimum of homes and businesses lose power.
Avista Corp. will lead a $38 million “smart-grid” demonstration project in Pullman that will upgrade the electric distribution system to the city of 27,600 people.
ARCADIA, Fla. – President Barack Obama made a pitch for renewable energy Tuesday, announcing $3.4 billion in government support for 100 projects aimed at modernizing the nation’s power grid. Touring a field of solar energy panels in west-central Florida, the president urged greater use of several technologies to make America’s power transmission system more efficient and better suited to the digital age. The projects include installing “smart” electric meters in homes, automating utility substations, and installing thousands of new digital transformers and grid sensors.
Once, when an appliance store ran low on waffle irons, the manager would order several more to avoid running out. Sooner or later, however, consumer preferences would change and the store would be stuck with a dozen unwanted waffle irons. Then retail wizards discovered just-in-time inventory control.
Liberty Lake meter technology company Itron Inc. is taking part in a lab test of “smart grid” technology conducted by the nation’s second-largest energy utility, National Grid. The New York-based subsidiary of a large British energy company, National Grid is testing smart metering equipment from Itron during its proof of concept test, expected to run for two years.
PORTLAND – Researchers across the Northwest have demonstrated that new technology can help manage electricity use. Now they’re betting they’ll get the same results with new experiments and show the whole country how it’s done. Twelve utilities in five states – including Avista Utilities and Inland Power and Light Co. in Spokane – have signed on to a proposal to test the so-called smart power grid under the direction of Battelle, the company that operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Richland. Battelle has applied for federal stimulus money.
Though it gets scant attention, one part of the infrastructure is perhaps the most important. Those plugged into the future know its power and potential, which they discussed at a conference this week in Spokane. The electrical grid isn’t given much thought until a transmission line goes down or a brownout or blackout hits your neighborhood. Then power is restored, and we go back to our computers, televisions and appliances. But people behind the scenes know the grid could do so much more if we were willing to invest in it.
The phrase of the moment, at least among utilities, energy companies and green technology advocates is “smart grid.” For two days next week a brain trust of Northwest energy experts will gather in Spokane to discuss how to move the country’s power grid from dumb to smart, and what exactly that change involves.
When LeRoy Nosbaum is asked if the Obama administration stimulus bill, with $4.5 billion for “smart” energy grid improvements, will modernize our frail power system, he wastes no time being polite. “Absolutely not,” he says.
Spokane, we could be approaching gridlock. And that would be a good thing. How good depends on how strong a connection government and business leaders can make between Inland Northwest companies selling “smart grid” goods, and international efforts to increase their use. The region has been a hotbed of “smart grid” technology development for more than two decades.