Press Releases

Why The Smart Grid Matters To Consumers: The Focus Of Energy Industry Group Annual Meeting

Larry Weis, CEO of Seattle City Light, will discuss grid modernization and how it will help engage customers at Smart Grid Northwest Annual Meeting in Seattle.

PORTLAND, OR – September 26, 2016 – How is modernization of the electrical grid bringing real value to consumers? Larry Weis, CEO of Seattle City Light, will discuss that topic in the keynote address at the 2016 Annual Meeting of Smart Grid Northwest, a trade organization for the smart grid industry in the Pacific Northwest. He will then be joined in a panel session by senior executives from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, GE, IBM, Bidgely and Avista.

The 2016 Annual Meeting is being held Tuesday, September 27 at the Pacific Tower in Seattle, WA. Mr. Weis will present grid modernization efforts completed and underway at Seattle City Light, and how these efforts are allowing the utility to more effectively engage with customers. Following Larry’s remarks, Nathan Shannon with the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative will moderate a discussion with industry leaders at the front lines of grid modernization for higher consumer benefit. Smart Grid Northwest members will also vote on organization matters, elect a new Board of Directors, and enjoy a networking event. The Annual Meeting is open to the public.

Energy providers are already seeing greater business efficiencies and quality of service by investing in smart grid technologies, such as Internet of Things and advanced metering. To maintain and expand on those benefits, they need make deliver value that matters to consumers, such as integration of renewable energy, electric vehicle charging and home automation. It’s important that the industry take an honest evaluation of end-user propensity to adopt and participate in such smart-grid enabled programs.

This event will explore today’s pressing smart grid questions:

  • Which smart grid innovations can deliver the most value to energy users
  • What concerns exist that industry stakeholders should address
  • How are current grid modernization investments—such as advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) programs—benefiting both grid operators and energy users
  • How are consumers responding to smart-grid enabled innovations such as on-site renewable energy, smart vehicle recharging, energy efficiency, home automation and smart thermostats

“We are happy to facilitate an industry discussion on how to make sure the new grid connects with consumers,” stated Bryce Yonker, Smart Grid NW Executive Director. “It’s exciting to see how new smart grid technologies are able to create value for everyone involved, from the energy producers to the energy users.”

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National and Local Experts Converge in Seattle for Symposium on Demand Response for the Pacific Northwest Electrical Grid

Smart Grid Northwest hosts a sold-out Demand Response Symposium with help from Northwest Power and Conservation Council and dozens of regional utilities and industry leaders.

PORTLAND, OR – September 21, 2016 – Smart Grid Northwest, a trade organization for the smart grid industry in the Pacific Northwest, announced that its upcoming Demand Response Symposium has sold out one week before the event. The Symposium features over 40 local and national demand response experts explaining how to improve the efficiency and resiliency of the electrical grid for Northwest companies and consumers by leveraging flexible demand side resources.

Taking place on September 28, 2016 in Seattle, Washington, the Symposium is targeted for leaders at regional utilities who want to learn more about developing and implementing demand response. They will enjoy a full day of focused discussions and presentations as well as networking with over 150 industry professionals with interests and experience in demand response solutions.

The Symposium welcomes speakers from Bonneville Power Administration, Comverge, Honeywell, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Nest, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Schneider Electric , Puget Sound Energy, Portland General Electric and many other utilities, corporations, research labs, and utility trade groups.

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What Small Utilities Can Learn From the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project

With the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project (PNWSGDP) wrapped up and reports from the subprojects rolling out, utilities are now able to review the reports for applicable lessons learned. Smaller utilities in particular should find the results valuable as they begin moving forward with any smart grid projects they’ve been planning. Larger utilities usually have teams of researchers and enough leverage to get manufacturers to sign on to pilot projects that will give them a better idea of how a full rollout will go, but smaller utilities don’t always have those elements at their disposal. Well-documented results, such as were released at the close of the PNWSGDP, can be a treasure trove of valuable information for them.

After reviewing the reports published by the Battelle Memorial Institute, we have compiled a short list of lessons learned that we think will be of use to any utility considering undertaking a relatively complex smart grid project. While this list is not comprehensive, we hope to grow it over time as more smart grid projects roll out. Feel free to contact us with comments or input.

Lessons learned from the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project:

  • Engage all of the stakeholders at the beginning of any project. Bring together all of the disparate groups that will be involved and make sure that everyone is on the same page concerning the project procedures and goals. This can help fight off the systemic confusion that will start to creep into any relatively complex undertaking.
  • Ensure that you have a technical champion on board. If you don’t have anyone on staff who will go to bat for the project you run the risk of the whole project falling apart from a lack of momentum or from an existential challenge. You may need to look outside of the current organization to find the right person.
  • Be proactive about customer engagement. Think about what type of terminology will work best with your member base. Avoid words that will turn members away from projects. Know your base and the things they care about.
  • Beef up connections between Engineering and IT departments. They will need to be able to work together smoothly if any technologically complex smart grid project will be successfully implemented. Schedule regular meetings and find common terminology so that issues can be dealt with in a timely manner without unnecessary confusion.

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Breaking the Logjam – How Can Congress Move Forward on Vital Grid Modernization Policy?

Unless you were entirely unplugged or on vacation last week there is no way you could have missed the news on the EPA moving forward with its Clean Power Plan. Many in the environmental community are calling it the biggest development for addressing climate change that the U.S. government has made to date. When you look at the Pacific NW however, it doesn’t appear that it will have a dramatic impact. The renewable portfolio standards, early coal facility retirement, and efficiency programs already underway in the Pacific NW (largely OR and WA) have us on a path of early compliance with the program.

The most recent released version of the Clean Power Plan does, however, call out energy storage and demand side solutions as tools for integrating variable resources. It also acknowledges that optimizing transmission and distribution systems can fit into state plans trough solutions that reduce line losses (like volt/VAR optimization) and that reduce end-use demand (conservation voltage reduction). And finally, while it may not make demand response explicitly a compliance resource, it does bring demand-side management assets more fully into the discussion as assets that can help system operators meet reliability and load requirements. These opportunities and others are a big step forward for the smart grid market across the country.

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The Distributed Generation Revolution

The last few years in the power industry has seen an accelerating proliferation of energy generating assets and smart end-use applications at the edge of the grid. This grid edge is the new hot spot for building out extensive amounts of intelligence and functionality as new distributed resources come online. In an effort to better understand the grid edge, this year’s annual Smart Grid Northwest meeting had leaders from utilities and companies describe how they see the distributed generation revolution evolving and the positive impacts it will have on utilities, companies and customers.

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Smart Grid Northwest Launch

Organization Formed to Promote and Expand Smart Grid Growth and Business Activity Across the Northwest

PORTLAND, OR, July 29, 2014 – The new organization Smart Grid Northwest launched with strong support from the regional energy community including major utilities, multinationals, and community organizations. At a formal kick-off event held in Portland, OR with over 100 energy and smart grid leaders, keynote speeches were delivered by immediate past Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jon Wellinghoff and recently appointed BPA Administrator Elliot Mainzer. Wellinghoff said, “I commend Smart Grid Northwest for leading the effort in the development of the region’s next generation energy system. This region has unique assets and can take a leadership role in creating a smarter energy future.”

For more information on the organization, visit the new website