The program in Erding, which has 33,000 residents, reflects a growing trend in Germany to re-communalize key town infrastructure. Towns are assuming a financial stake in multi-fuel utilities, water, district heating, transport and communications. As a result, they offer ideal environments to showcase technologies that can increase efficiency and lessen the environmental impact.
Walter Huber, general manager of Stadtwerke Erding, said, “We are developing a complete picture of our energy and resource usage to help us become more efficient providers and consumers of energy. What we are learning will help us formulate practical, effective and timely programs to reduce our carbon footprint without sacrificing lifestyle.”
Keith Redfearn, general manager of GE Energy Services transmission and distribution in Europe said Erding was making history, “by applying the benefits of smart grid technologies across all of the utilities in a home, maximizing the ways we can understand and lessen their effect on our planet.”
The smart meters are connected to a central office for analysis and planning via a data concentrator, providing data to optimize usage efficiency and minimizing waste. Benchmarking data from last year will contribute to emissions and efficiency programs in 2010 and beyond.
Redfearn added, “Instead of being smarter simply with electricity, Erding officials are leveraging GE solutions to help them make decisions based on the complete picture of utility consumption and carbon consequences.”
By consolidating infrastructure, the program also delivers operational advantages, reducing up-front costs and allowing other communications-dependent functions like security, health, safety and assisted living monitoring to be added as the city develops those solutions.
In the U.S., GE has initiated a pilot program in Michigan employing WiMAX 4G communications and smart meters. According to GE, this is the first-ever U.S. smart grid pilot program using this technology.
To fine-tune smart meter capabilities using this technology, GE has collaborated with a number of utilities around the world, including Consumers Energy and American Electric Power in the United States.
Bob Gilligan, vice president for GE’s digital energy says the pilot program “helps Consumers Energy evaluate the immediate benefits of smart metering, while providing the company with a powerful platform to adopt additional smart grid technologies to further increase energy efficiency, improve reliability, empower consumers with information. Deploying better ways to move information is key to finding smarter, more efficient and more reliable ways to move electricity.”
The technology also exceeds industry standards to deliver “government-grade” security benefits.