After all the frustration that progressives such as myself have felt over the health care “debate” in the past few weeks, it’s nice to come across pieces of better news. Such is the case with an announcement from the Energy Department and Colorado’s Senate offices: the city of Fort Collins, CO will receive $5 million in Recovery Act funds for a smart-grid demonstration project, one of eight projects around the country.
This is actually the second smart-grid project to be established for a city in Colorado. The first, in Boulder, is being developed in concert with Xcel Energy, which I covered in March 2008, May 2008 and March 2009. Boulder’s and Xcel’s progress on this initial project has been a little hard to come by this year, as I wrote about back in March. Their website has been redesigned a couple of times, but the same material just seems to be getting shuffled around.
It looks to me like Xcel’s initial target of 50,000 homes to be connected by the end of this year was scaled back to 23,000 homes by the middle of this year. To this point, I haven’t been able to determine if this lower target is going to be achieved or not. I’m sure Xcel and Boulder are experiencing issues and delays that weren’t forseeable when the program was announced. I hope that Ft. Collins and the Energy Department are in touch with Boulder and Xcel officials about their experiences. Sharing learned lessons would likely help the Ft. Collins program announce more realistic target numbers and dates.
Back to the Ft. Collins announcement:
The City of Fort Collins, in cooperation with a number of partners in the state, will research, develop and demonstrate a coordinated and integrated system of mixed clean energy technologies and distributed energy resources to reduce peak load electricity demand at distribution feeders and expand use of renewable energy sources.
Smart grids and smart cities will be important cogs in our future smart energy culture. I’m sure efforts like the ones in Boulder and Ft. Collins will seem quaint in the not-too-far future. But they’re important stepping stones to get to where we need to be. Congratulations, Ft. Collins; thank you Sec. Chu!
Cross-posted at SquareState.