A startup’s dream to become a clean power retailer

Starting a electricity retailer doesn’t sound like an easy thing to do, but startup Ethical Electric is setting out to do that – but without needing to building and operating distribution lines.

The pressure to add clean power in California

The race for more clean power has intensified in California, and utilities such as PG&E and San Diego Gas & Electric have been busy inking contracts to meet what is the toughest standard in the country.

5 reasons why Microsoft Hohm didn’t take off

They’re dropping like flies: the big Internet companies’ online energy tools. Last week, it was Google pulling the plug on PowerMeter, and this week, it’s RIP for Microsoft and its Hohm energy tool. Here’s my assessment of 5 reasons why Microsoft Hohm didn’t take off.

The Next-Gen Utility: When Every Rooftop Is a Power Plant

Will your local utility one day go the way of dinosaurs? As more home and business owners install solar panels, wind turbines and other electricity and heat generating equipment, the roles of the utilities will change and new business opportunities will rise.

Battle Over Solar Permit Costs in Colorado

Solar equipment installers and manufacturers have pointed out for some time now the hassles of dealing with disparate permitting rules and costs from one city or county to the next. A new report highlights this challenge in Colorado, where a bill is pending to cap fees.

Xcel’s SmartGridCity Can Thank Fiber For Ballooning Costs

Xcel Energy’s showcase smart grid project in Boulder, Colo. has cost a lot more than originally expected, and the Colorado Public Utility Commission is now asking the utility to prove why it needs its Colorado customers to foot part of the bill. The main culprit for the cost overruns? — fiber.

According to a Friday story in the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper, SmartGridCity — one of the most widely publicized experiments in bringing smart grid systems to an entire city, with a who’s who of industry partners including GridPoint, Accenture (s ACCN), Current Group, SmartSynch, Ventyx and OSISoft — has seen capital costs balloon from an initially projected $15.3 million to a new estimate of $42.1 million, and that doesn’t include operations and maintenance (the entire project is expected to cost in excess of $100 million).
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XCel Energy Says Boulder SmartGridCity Is Live

powergridgeneric4If you thought the smart grid was a distant future, in some cities it’s already here. Xcel Energy (s XEL), which sells electricity and gas in eight western and mid-western states, says its SmartGridCity Project in Boulder, Colo. is now live. At least the smart distribution piece is up and running. That includes the network infrastructure and software for routing power to automated substations and around impacted power lines, and Xcel says the deployed technology is already enabling the company to anticipate network failures and fix broken gear before a major outage occurs.
The milestone is important because it shows how quickly utilities are now moving to get smart grid projects deployed. The utility started construction on the project last year, and SmartGridCity is now one of the projects that is the farthest along in the U.S. and one of the first that can claim to have a distribution piece up and running. The technology was built by Accenture (s ACN), Current Group, GridPoint, OSIsoft, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, SmartSynch and Ventyx.
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FAQ: Smart Grid

President Obama has called for the installation of 40 million smart meters and 3,000 miles of transmission lines. That means 2009 could be the year that we finally start seeing real attention being paid to “Power Grid 2.0” — basically turning the electrical grid of the 60s and 70s into a modern network that uses microprocessors and software to work efficiently and to connect to renewable energy generation.

A build-out of the smart grid could also be one of the largest creators of wealth in the decade. As smart grid analyst Jesse Berst said recently, the smart grid will “spawn new Googles and Microsofts,” and is “akin to the transcontinental railroad, the phone system, the interstate highway system and the Internet.” Still confused? Here are the key players, the background and the latest innovative technology:

What is smart grid technology?:

As Foundation Capital put it recently in a note on the market: “A true Smart Grid enables multiple applications to operate over a shared, interoperable network, similar in concept to the way the Internet works today.” That means turning the current electrical network that has 14,000 transmission substations, 4,500 large substations for distribution, and 3,000 public and private owners into a network that communicates intelligently and works efficiently.
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