Within the next decade and beyond, it is possible that there will be more change in our industry than we have experienced in the last half century. Rapidly evolving technology is a major driver and will continue to change how we serve customers, as it also changes customer preferences for more sophisticated products and services.
Through collaborations with researchers, technology developers and others in our industry, we actively monitor and stay abreast of developments in emerging and advanced energy technology. We have underway a number of pilot and demonstration projects that are testing the real-world application of cutting-edge technologies and serving customers today.
As the backbone of our energy system, the power grid—including all of its distribution, transmission and generation components—will enable and deliver advanced technology solutions. The grid is in the early stages of becoming an integrated network of optimized, centralized and distributed energy resources. It is transforming from a centralized, one-way delivery model to a system of resources that introduce two-way flows.
Changes to the grid will require significant, long-term investment in technologies to keep the system safe and secure, decarbonize it and deliver new energy solutions to customers. This grid transformation is a key piece of our strategic planning that we are implementing through significant regulatory proposals, such as our Advanced Grid Intelligence and Security filing in Colorado, through pilot and demonstration projects, and through policy discussions with our states.
In recognition of our progress and commitment to adopting advanced and emerging technologies, the Colorado Clean Tech Industries Association recognized Xcel Energy as its High Impact Cleantech Company of the Year in 2016.
Advanced Grid Intelligence and Security (Advanced Grid) is Xcel Energy’s long-term strategic initiative aimed at transforming the power grid into an intelligent, integrated network that securely, efficiently, reliably and safely integrates distributed energy resources. As a result, customers will have new tools that empower them with information for controlling and tracking their energy use.
In 2016, we submitted an Advanced Gird Intelligence and Security proposal to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Specifically, we requested a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to implement:
The nearly $600 million effort is a natural next step to building a smarter, more advanced energy infrastructure for our customers and allows us to remain a next-generation energy provider. In spring of 2017, the utilities commission held a public comment meeting on our filing, with a decision expected later in the year. If approved, the entire project would be completed in 2021.
By the end of 2016, our Field Area Network (FAN) covered 27 percent of the Denver metro area, and we are well on our way to covering the entire area. FAN enables two-way communication between intelligent devices on the grid—such as advanced meters—and the control center. These communications can include automatically notifying us when customers lose or regain power, improving our ability to identify outages and more efficiently deploying repair crews.
Xcel Energy joined Energy Impact Partners in 2015 as an opportunity to better understand technology’s impact on our business and to drive greater efficiency and innovation as we meet evolving customer needs. The fund is a collaborative, strategic investment platform that provides capital to clean-tech companies that seek to optimize energy consumption and improve sustainable energy generation. Our planned $50 million investment over five years represents a new era for us, where we move beyond clean energy implementation for our customers and into the clean-tech investment space. Energy Impact Partners has made seven investments to date that include Autogrid, Sparkfund, Sense, Enchanted Rock, Arcadia Power, Greenlots and Opus One.
Colorado’s Innovative Clean Technology program was established in 2009 as a way for the state to enable testing of emerging technologies that promise to lower greenhouse gas emissions and produce other environmental benefits. For Xcel Energy, we have had the ability to test several new technologies and evaluate their cost, reliability and environmental performance on a small, demonstration scale before determining whether to deploy them more widely for customers.
Xcel Energy currently has two battery storage demonstration projects under the program:
After celebrating its grand opening in 2011, the Solar Technology Acceleration Center (SolarTAC) in Aurora, Colo., developed into a world-class facility for demonstrating and validating some of the most advanced solar technologies available, in a real-world, grid-connected environment. From the beginning, Xcel Energy recognized the potential benefit of SolarTAC and signed on as an original founding member.
Our investment has paid off for customers. Not only have we tested important battery projects at the site, solar technologies fine-tuned at SolarTAC serve our customers in Colorado and the Southwest with more cost-effective, efficient solar energy. Through testing, solar developers were able to make adjustments for cold weather conditions before installing the technology in our service areas.
Last year, the 74-acre site embarked on its next evolution to become a test-bed for solar-enabling products and components. GridNXT at SolarTAC will support the demonstration of advanced technologies for integrating distributed generation, including microgrid capabilities, at the edge or end of the electric distribution system.
In-line with the new mission, Xcel Energy is currently testing a lithium-iron-phosphate battery from Colorado’s Iron Edison Company to demonstrate energy storage with rooftop solar in a residence for reliability and other services. The 20kWh battery, combined with a 5.5kW inverter, is being used to support appliances, HVAC, lighting and EV charging under different scenarios.
Learn more about our use of renewable energy resources.
Find information about our support of electric vehicles.
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