Tuesday, February 5, 2013

OG&E: Smart Grid, Smart Meters, and Windpower for Norman, OK

Because I live in Norman, OK, a lot of people from other states have laughed when I tell them I am on 100% wind power here in Norman, along with the smart grid and a smart meter.  Now I have a thermostat that my brother installed during the holidays that communicates with my smart phone and allows me to change the temperature based on circumstances.  I intend to become as energy friendly as I can.

Every week, OGE notifies us about our usage compared to our neighbors and what is very energy efficient.  Usually I am in the middle closer to very energy efficient but two weeks ago I was less then energy efficient which made me want to celebrate.  It is a combination of a new roof with an energy efficient layer under the shingles (insurance had to replace all of the shingles in this area due to ice storms) and believe my new thermostat as the temperature stays much more even now.  Old thermostat had seen better days.

When OGE offered various amounts of wind power, I signed up for 100% as did a lot of my neighbors.  It started with the University of Oklahoma partnering with OGE and spread to the rest of us here in Norman.  Felt is was a civic duty to help OGE not have to build new power plants so I took a chance even though was told by some it wouldn't work.  It did work and I saved money while OGE doesn't have to build more power plants.  In the summer, I signed up for core hours when energy costs would be more expensive so I cut back on how I use and at other times we get a really low rate.  I have cut my electric bill for the year way back.  It is a great system and my hat is off to OGE for being a forward looking company.

After I read this article about the Super Bowl and need for a Smart Grid, I wanted to shout that OGE used stimulus money to build the grid right here in central OK.  So much for the conservative talk, stimulus money didn't work -- we are living proof.  The author of this piece, John Avalon, obviously did not check to see if any utility company was using the smart grid.  Whoever he asked missed OGE here in Oklahoma and what has done to make us more energy efficient and now have to build more power plants.
Super Bowl Blackout Should Help Build Momentum for a Smart Grid
The 34-minute power cut during the year’s biggest sporting event illustrated for 100 million viewers the effects of our aging electrical grid. John Avlon on why we’ll see more blackouts unless Obama invests in a smart grid.
The 34-minute Super Bowl blackout is just the most recent high-profile example of a growing national problem. Blackouts are on the rise across the United States, with major power outages doubling over the past decade.
Nonetheless, the 34-minute hold on the Super Bowl should be sufficient to get broader attention for an issue that is vital to America’s long-term security and economic competitiveness: building the smart grid.
It may be tempting to file the idea under “boring but important,” but building a smart grid is almost as significant as building the transcontinental railroad was in the 1800s. 
Here’s the high concept: basically, today’s national energy grid is like the overstretched power strip in your college dorm. It’s a patchwork affair, with networks connecting to networks in ways that are tangential and highly unstable. The grid is held together by the infrastructure equivalent of duct tape and prayer. 
Building a smart grid would allow for the monitoring of the electricity flow in real time, making it dramatically more reliable and efficient for both producers and consumers, while integrating renewable energy efforts as well. It would improve our commerce and our resilience. The idea has long been on the national to-do list. In 2007 a modernization of the energy grid was codified in legislation under President Bush. During the 2008 campaign Barack Obama ran on modernizing the nation’s electricity grid, using smart-grid practices. Five years, later some progress has been made, but we’re still a long way from implementation. 
The need is urgent, not only because of the comparative economic benefits of a smart-grid system but because of the vulnerabilities in our current system. There have been reports of a city, often suggested to be in Brazil, having its electricity cut off by extortionist hackers. In addition, seized al Qaeda computers showed detailed studies of U.S. infrastructure, including the electrical grid and nuclear power plants. Finally, our electrical grid has reportedly been infiltrated by cyberspies from China and Russia who left behind malware programs that could be used to disrupt or destroy critical infrastructure. 
The Obama administration devoted roughly $4.5 billion of the more than $789 billion in stimulus funds to the establishment of a smart grid, but that was just a down payment. While the initial smart-grid down payment was matched by private funds, experts estimate that building a national smart grid could cost 10 times as much over the next two decades. 
“There was this sense of frustration,” former Obama budget director Peter Orszag told Michael Grunwald in an interview for his book, The New New Deal. “Here’s the first African-American president, the economy has fallen off a cliff, history is calling, and—really? I can’t just do a smart grid?” 
Sadly, it’s not that simple, in large part because the sums are huge, public-private partnerships are essential, and the technology is still being perfected in some cases. Moreover, the stimulus’s stated goal of going to “shovel ready” projects did not necessarily fit long-term investments like the smart grid. That’s why the smart grid should be a cornerstone of the second-term agenda for the Obama administration and a key criterion for the selection of the next energy secretary, to replace the outgoing Nobel laureate Steven Chu.
Excerpt:  Read More at The Daily Beast
People from around the Country are starting to look at OGE for how they were able to get the smart grid with our smart meters up and running in three years not five after receiving stimulus dollars.  Spent the last summer with day after day over 100, but my electric bills were much lower thanks to the smart grid and the meter as they would alert us on our computer when to cut energy use.  Found it easy to work with and was not uncomfortable at all.  There were days when there was not going to be a significant power usage that I only paid 2.9 cents a kilowatt hour which was a huge savings and why my electric bills were so low.  This article tells how it was done in Oklahoma -- the naysayers are not forward thinking people because it does work -- we are living proof right here in Norman, Oklahoma:
Smart Grid StrategyUnder the hood of OGE's successful smart grid deployment 
Oct 22, 2012
By Jesse Berst 
Expert NASCAR fans know the truth. Although the drivers get the publicity, much of the success depends on the car -- more specifically, what's under the hood. 
The same with a smart grid installation. Sure, it's important to have a strong project lead. But much of the success depends on the tools, technologies and techniques "under the hood."That's why I was so pleased to get a chance to learn what is powering OGE's smart grid project, widely regarded as one of North America's very best. We've recruited OGE Expert Solution Architect Joel Webb to participate in a webinar titled "Success secrets of OGE's smart grid deployment."
 In preparation for the webcast, I talked with people familiar with OGE's "Positive Energy Smart Grid Program." Below I've distilled several of the key learnings. (We'll go into more detail in the webinar while also giving you a chance to ask questions.) 
Headquartered in Oklahoma City, OGE is a regulated electric utility company that serves over 750,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas. Its Positive Energy Smart Grid Program, funded in part by $130 million in stimulus dollars, has four main components:
1.     Advanced metering infrastructure
2.     Distribution automation
3.     A range of in-home technologies
4.     Dynamic pricing programs
OGE was not content just to slap up a few smart meters and call it a day. The deployment's ambitious goals included: 
·     Provide "digital-grade" power     
Optimize efficiency and asset utilization ·         
Improve resilience against attack or disaster
·     Empower new services: Build a platform for delivering new products, services and markets 
Oh, and one other thing -- they were charged with completing what should have been a five-year journey in just three years instead. 
Lessons learned 
My initial research uncovered many great ideas. Here are three highlights:

Best-of-breed development process. You may be wondering how OGE is hoping to complete a five-year project in just three years. One answer is that it is running a number of projects in parallel. Another is the use of the Solution Delivery Lifecycle methodology, which provides: 
·         A centralized repository for deliverables 
·         Automated workflows
·         Standards, processes and templates
Smart Grid, smart grid deployment, OG&E smart grid deployment, OG&E webinar
"If we were going to do five years of work in three, we knew we would need a methodical approach," explains OGE's Joel Webb. "Especially since there were so many people on the project, both OGE people and contractors. We needed a good solid way to manage."
Integrated operations center. OGE's integrated operations center monitors all network, system and operational resources. Built around IBM's Tivoli Netcool, it provides situational awareness (through visualization), drill-down capabilities, and incident management. It monitors everything from smart meters to network devices to datacenter servers and more. As I talk to utilities around the country, this is often one of the missing pieces -- the lack of a "manager of managers." 
.OGE wisely addressed the challenge, resulting in end-to-end visibility and control. "We saw the sheer number of new devices that were coming into play and spitting out information and needing constant observation," says Joel Webb. "There was no way we could do it using our old, siloed methodology." 

Please go to Smart Grid News for Page 2
There you have it -- a utility company headquartered in Oklahoma City has done something the doom and gloomers said couldn't be done.  Now it is time for the rest of the Country to catch up with OGE and start realizing that we need to conservative energy and not have to build any more coal powered utility plants.  That probably wouldn't go over too well in West Virginia but not having to use more coal is a plus in my book and a helps keep our air clean.

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