Smart Grid

December 10, 2012

Guam Gets a Smarter Grid

Guam Power Authority (GPA) has begun deployment of more than 56,000 smart meters to all commercial and residential customers within the 209-square-mile U.S. Pacific island territory, as well as a next-generation grid infrastructure.  The $33.2 million project has been capitalized with a $16.6 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant approved in 2009, as well as matching funds from bonds issued by the GPA.

The features of the new smart grid will comprise:

Communications infrastructure, including the necessary meter communications and backhaul networks to enable two-way communications between the smart meters, distribution automation assets and the head-end system.

Advanced metering infrastructure, including the installation of smart meters, to provide customers with home area network connectivity. The AMI will comprise supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), a meter data management (MDM) system, an enterprise planning system, and a customer information system (CIS). The smart meters also are expected to reduce meter operations costs and electricity theft.

An outage management system will be combined with the AMI, to help the utility locate, diagnose, and dispatch field resources to fix problems more quickly.

Customer service options, including a Web portal that provides household/business electricity usage and costs.

Time of use (ToU) rate programs, which should help reduce peak demand and provide customers with greater cost control.

Distribution automation systems, to improve system reliability and efficiency.

Distribution system energy efficiency improvements, including the integration of automated capacitors with a volt/volt ampere reactive (VAR) management system. The capacitors improve volt/VAR control, power quality and distribution capacity by reducing energy losses.

The Clarksville, Maryland-based Georgetown Consulting Group, which advised the Public Utilities Commission on the project, recommended approval of the smart grid program based on $338 million of net benefits to GPA and its customers more than 15 years.

First, the GPA will be able to read smart meters remotely,—providing more privacy for residents, fewer estimated meter reads and easy on-demand reads.

Second, the smart grid will help eliminate between 600 and 800 truck rolls per month and about 4,500 work orders for reconnections and disconnections. Instead, the smart grid will enable the utility to perform remote reconnects and disconnects for residential accounts.

When the lights go out, smart meters will automatically notify the GPA, helping the utility to restore power more quickly or preventing an electrical problem in the home.  This will save gas, labor and vehicle costs, and overall operational expenses (which translates to cost-savings through efficiencies for rate payers).

At GPA facilities, the smart grid will touch every functional area, improving business efficiency by replacing tedious, manual, error-prone processes with faster, less costly automated procedures.

Finally, through their home area network, customers will be able to control thermostats, water heaters, or other smart appliances within their homes, providing greater efficiency and cost savings.

“In time,” said Joaquin Flores, general manager of the Guam Power Authority, “customers could request to receive automatic alerts (via emails or text messages) to notify them of when their electricity consumption exceeds a pre-determined threshold, when there is an outage, or when there is a power quality problem.”

He added, “GPA hopes that because of the smart grid program and other GPA investments in capital improvement projects, renewable energy, and fuel diversification, GPA will be able to save [customers] money on … power bills and provide … better energy solutions.”

The smart grid project is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2013.

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