IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Chancellor’s home an education in energy efficiency
CU Buff decorations and a scenic backyard are not the only sites to see at Chancellor G.P. “Bud” Peterson’s home. Hidden in the walls and throughout the house, a Smart Grid energy management system is at work.
Unveiled Aug. 27, the Xcel Energy SmartGridCity home is the first in Boulder and is a vision for a self-sufficient energy network. It is a system designed to deliver electricity from power plants to consumers. The Smart Grid uses a two-way communication complex to maintain efficiency, reliability, consumption and cost on its own in order to maximize renewable generation. In the case of the chancellor’s house, renewable solar power is used and converted into stored or usable energy. The house is furnished with six-kilowatt solar panels, an online energy management system and instant backup power through battery operation.
“The house functions through a computer that monitors and regulates the entire system of anything with a high electric load,” said Rob Wyle of Xcel Energy. “You set it and you walk away from it.”
However, the residents of the household do not give up total control. The house has an installed energy administration system that allows the family to adjust and uphold energy consumption according to their preferences and to see the amount of environmental solar energy produced. The family also has the capability to view online information about their energy expenditure.
“The home comes equipped with four adjustable thermostats,” said Ray Gogel of Xcel Energy. “They are controlled through internet communications allowing signals to be sent whenever the family changes the settings.”
Another feature of Smart Grid is the ability to plug-in a hybrid vehicle. In conjunction with V2Green, Xcel Energy established a way to hook the vehicle into the grid system to recharge. With the two-way communication system between the car and the grid, petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.
The Chancellor’s house is only the beginning. Xcel estimates that by the end of 2008, more than 13,000 houses will have Smart Grid. With the new Smart Grid system, Xcel has attempted to answer the problem of growing energy demands and environmental restraints.
“Can you take a hundred years of history and undo it to be more efficient? We’ll see,” Gogel said.
A bimonthly publication produced by the Department of University Communications
© The Regents of the University of Colorado