Smart Grid

February 19, 2013

In Maine and Spain, Iberdrola Reigns as Smart Grid Provider

Iberdrola, a Spanish private multinational electric utility based in Bilbao—and possibly best-known for its wind farms—has completed the installation of 600,000 smart meters in Maine, the northernmost state in America,  and has begun a mass rollout of smart grids in nine Spanish regions, through its STAR (News - Alert) project.

The Iberdrola STAR project —“Sistemas de Telegestión y Automatización de la Red” in Spanish, meaning ”Network Remote Management and Automation Systems” in English—was the largest, most comprehensive metering and grid automation initiative announced in Europe in 2012.  Specifically, the STAR project will require a total investment of some US$2.7 billion to replace 10.3 million traditional meters with smart devices; and to adapt some 80,000 transformer stations, which will be equipped with remote management, monitoring and automation capacities.

The new infrastructure promises to provide clients and ratepayers with significantly more reliable and high-quality electric service, along with new products and services. Ratepayers will enjoy access to an Internet portal that will offer a variety of useful information—including time-of-use (TOU) pricing, which will enable them to make decisions about their own energy consumption and billing.

The next-generation grid platform also will stream real-time data, so that the utility can monitor power supply, and address outages and service issues as quickly as possible.

What’s more, the grid transformation also will help to fulfill the energy and environmental targets in the company’s service areas, by promoting:

  • Energy efficiency,
  • System integration of renewable/distributed energy sources, and
  • Mass rollout of electric vehicles.

Along these same lines, Iberdrola’s Scottish subsidiary is running smart metering pilot projects in various towns, while the conditions for business regulation take shape in the United Kingdom.

Iberdrola also is involved in innovative projects such as the Low Carbon Networks (LCN) Fund to facilitate the integration of renewable generation sources into the British distribution grid.   As part of the electricity distribution price controls that are effective from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2015, Britain’s Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Of gem) established the LCN Fund. The fund provides up to US$776 million in support to projects sponsored by distribution network operators (DNOs) to try out new technology, operating and commercial arrangements. The objective of the projects is to help all DNOs understand what they need to do to cost-effectively provide security of supply as Great Britain moves to a low-carbon economy.

Basque Deployment Schedule and Objectives

Following the successful completion of the STAR project in Castellón, where over one million smart meters were installed, Iberdrola has been deploying this technology in eight autonomous regions (Castile La Mancha, Castile and León, Extremadura, Madrid, the Basque Country, Murcia, Navarre and La Rioja).

In 2012, work begun in the city of Pamplona. When finished in 2018, over 360,000 supply points in Navarre will have smart meters and their transformer substations will have been upgraded with this type of technology.

Through the PRICE Project, funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Iberdrola and several business partners will update 1,600 transformer substations along the Henares river basin in the provinces of Madrid and Guadalajara.  

By the end of 2013, Iberdrola will have replaced over 70,000 customer meters in the city of Caceres and adapted all 400 transformer substations that make up its power grid in Extremadura.

In the province of Vizcaya, in cooperation with the Basque government, Iberdrola will adapt over 1,100 substations. The transformation and modernization of its electricity distribution grid in Castile-La Mancha is making steady progress. By the end of 2018, there will be over 712,000 supply points with smart meters in the region and approximately 6,000 transformer centers will operate with this type of technology.

With roll-out of this technology, Iberdrola’s projects in Spain have become an international benchmark since they allow for using equipment from different manufacturers with full intercommunication capacity. It should be noted that the development of smart grids entails new business opportunities for numerous companies in the energy sector, serving as a driving force of regional economic and social development. Over the past years, Iberdrola has awarded contracts to various manufacturers and suppliers in Spain amounting to US$400 million.

Edited by Brooke Neuman