SmartGrid Monitors Campus Energy

Morayo Bakare



Word Count: 403

UMKC has teamed up with KCP&L’s SmartGrid program to support the company’s decision to help consumers make smart decisions about energy consumption. Examples of the SmartGrid program on campus are the two car chargers in the Rockhill Road parking garage – any hybrid or electric car can utilize these fourth-floor chargers.

SmartGrid is a five-year initiative to develop an end-to-end electrical system that will improve the flow of communication and information between different KCP&L systems as well as between KCP&L and customers. It will introduce a variety of new products and technologies and study how the different system parts best work together to benefit customers and KCP&L. It will also test new energy-efficiency measures, storage capabilities, and distribution options. The SmartGrid plan hopes to improve electrical reliability, lower energy delivery costs and reduce the environmental impact of KCP&L and customers.

According to a graph provided in the KCP&L SmartGrid Demonstration, UMKC falls within the implementation zone, which caters to the Country Club Plaza area, Hyde Park and Westport. The project was divvyed into five phases, the first of which started in 2010 to define the project and execute marketing strategies. In phase two, which pushed into 2011, the grid system was installed and set up in houses. The key deployment period, which they call 2011 to 2012, was when the project was fully implemented and data collection began. Currently the project is in the fifth and final phase, where the system is evaluated and the data is analyzed. This is the stage to determine whether the system accomplished the initial goal of lowering costs and improving communication with customers.

To avoid making unnecessary mistakes, KCP&L researched other utilities such as Xcel, California Edison, and Austin Energy to learn that it is necessary to engage consumers proactively during the demonstration rather than wait until it is completed, to educate consumers about the project, to preach green incentives, and to divulge information partially, as too much makes customers resistant.

According to the Burns and McDonnell website, the project has since deployed more than 14,000 smart meters in homes and to commercial customers, 1600 in-home displays and thermostats and 400 advanced home area network devices. The in-home display, fondly called “The MySmart Display,” provides real-time information on the customer’s electricity use and offers information to effectively reduce consumption and save money. The SmartGrid project is demonstrating promising success at keeping KC green.

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