UC San Diego and CleanTECH to Create Smart Grid for Region

San Diego Downtown and Marina at Night Photo

Image via: TallCJ on Flickr.com

In partnership with CleanTECH San Diego, the University of California, San Diego plans to develop and construct a smart grid system for the San Diego region. In total, over 25 local national and global organizations will be involved in this major endeavor to bring smart, clean, green technology to the region. San Diego is situated in a part of the US that gets a lot of sun, during a lot of the year. Other than "May grey" and "June gloom," the city is in a prime location for renewable energy technologies and is fast taking advantage of their prime solar real estate. The area is also the second largest city in California, bringing along with the problems of urban sprawl and a car-loving culture. Trying to green this city has not been easy, but the citizens have definitely been receptive. A smart grid system might be just the thing to use the unlimited renewable resources here to bring green alternatives to the area. The system will allow homeowners to have better control over when their appliances are using (purchasing) electricity and will also create new, green jobs in the region.

UC San Diego has already shown an interest in renewables by installing solar panels on parking garages and around the campus, in total generating 3.4 megawatts of renewable energy by 2010. In addition, the local utility SDG&E; was, "the first utility in the continental United States to agree to generate 33 percent of our electricity from renewable resources by 2020," reports SDG&E; Chief Operations Officer Michael R Niggli. The smart grid system is one way to help achieve that goal. The utility also services over 1.4 million meters spanning 4,100 square miles of area.

Another benefit to the smart grid system: the area has already been installing this technology for year in preparation of such a larger-scale system. The San Diego region also has a higher concentration of "wired" residents than other areas, making it easier to install and go forward with a smart grid system. The more customers with solar panels on their roofs, the more energy that can be put back onto smart grid, and this is an area where it makes smart financial sense for customers to go solar.

The program is looking to receive $100 million USD of the $4.5 billion USD the government has proposed to spend on smart grid projects. The group plans to develop a "community-scale utility system within the region," and customers will be encouraged to both manage their own energy usage as well as drive electric vehicles. No word on how many customers exactly will be included in the smart grid.

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