By GCN Staff

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Engineers monitor the smart grid at Florida Power and Light

Nation's first smart grid goes online in Florida

The first full-scale smart grid is up and running in Florida, networking 4.5 million smart meters and more than 10,000 other devices.

The $800 million project by Florida Power & Light was completed last week, with the promise of fewer and shorter power outages and lower electric bills for customers, MIT Technology Review reports.

Many utilities have been installing smart meters and other components of a smart grid — parts of FPL’s grid have been operating for more than a year — but this is the first time it’s all been tied together, the article said.

The system uses smart meters that have replaced traditional meters in homes and businesses and use radio frequencies to communicate with automated feeder switches and other devices on poles and power lines, FLP’s Bryan Olnick wrote in a post on the utility’s website.

FPL, which serves 4.6 million customers in south Florida, said some of the benefits of the grid  include:

  • Real-time information on the health and performance of the electric grid.
  • Ability to identify outages and diagnose their causes so FPL can restore power faster.
  • Verification when power is restored.
  • Early warning of power issues to enable rerouting electricity around trouble spots, thus confining outages to smaller areas.
  • Remote communications with FPL through advanced technology.
  • Greater information for FPL customers about their energy use so they can make smart decisions about conserving electricity.

"This technology truly is transforming how we create, transport and deliver electricity," FPL president Eric Silagy said at an event marking the project’s completion. "While we're marking important milestones today, this is just the beginning.”

The development of a smart electric grid, providing a two-way flow of power and data, is a national effort prompted by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. FLP was one of six utilities in the country that received a $200 million grant from the Energy Department for a smart grid, and began work on it in 2009. FPL provided the rest of the funding.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has devoped a guide, Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability, to help with the effort.

Posted by Kevin McCaney on May 02, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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