Archive for the ‘Smart Grid’ Topic

Our Collective Load on the Grid

Monday, October 31st, 2016

OPALCO has about 11,200 members, distributed across 20 islands, all connected by the grid. How do the patterns of daily life show up on the grid? OPALCO manages our collective energy load carefully to make best use of member resources and keep rates as low as possible. Understanding our energy usage patterns is important as we embrace more intermittent resources, such as wind and solar, and as we make decisions today about our power supply tomorrow.

Load ChartOur local grid connects to the mainland through two submarine cables. These cables draw power from a transmission network . . . READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Checks Being Mailed

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Are you waiting for a check for the WA State Renewable Energy Incentive?  Payments are being mailed this week!  These incentives help to offset the cost of installing renewable energy generating systems.

If you are an Interconnected Member Generator (see Member Policy 14 for details), OPALCO measures every kWh you produce, and we pay you for each unit per the guidelines from the State legislature.  This means that you can send power back to the grid for your friends and neighbors to use, OR you can use it at your home or business; either way, you get credit for it!

If you want to keep an eye on how much you’re using versus how much you produce, the SmartHub tool allows you to monitor your consumption and generation.  It also allows you to review your billing history, and find out how much you send back to your friends and neighbors each month.  Thank you, Member Generators for generating over 988,000 kilowatt hours this year!


Net Meter Analysis


Thursday, February 9th, 2012

From Unlike standard car batteries, lithium-ion batteries used to power EVs have a lot of life left in them after they’re retired from service in a vehicle. Automation technology group ABB, Nissan North America, 4R Energy and Sumitomo Corporation of America have teamed up to evaluate and test the all-electric Nissan Leaf battery for residential and commercial use as energy storage systems.

Lithium-ion batteries have up to 70% of their capacity remaining after 10 years of service as a car battery. The partners plan to create a Leaf battery storage prototype capable of providing at least 50 kilowatt hours of power, the amount needed to keep the lights on in 15 average homes for two hours.

read the rest of the story:

OPALCO Studies Broadband Expansion

Friday, September 30th, 2011

What Role Should OPALCO Play to support the ongoing community effort to make higher-speed, more reliable broadband available in San Juan County?
partnering with emergency services and public safety providers, the Economic Development Council and other stakeholders in the County to study how county-wide access to broadband (high-speed internet) services would benefit our members. Please watch for a green survey postcard in the mail that asks for your input on what role OPALCO might play in this important community effort. Infrastructure expansion would improve our public safety network from dispatch radio communication, broadband access and enhanced 911 services to the potential for better cellular services. OPALCO’s fiber is already serving the County, the Sheriff’s Office, fire departments, libraries, medical centers and schools as well as some small businesses. With some additional investment, OPALCO could extend the fiber network to serve members in most of San Juan County.

Please  take a minute to complete the postcard survey (in mailboxes in mid-October or pick up a copy at your OPALCO office beginning 10/17) and return it to OPALCO by October 28th. Of the surveys received on time, ten names will be drawn to receive a $100 bill credit as our thanks for helping us with this important research.

Read the full article online.

Managing Intermittent Wind Energy with EVs

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

From Integrating intermittent renewable energy sources like wind into the electric grid has been one of the big challenges facing the smart grid initiative. Now, scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) say they have what could be a workaround: plug-in EVs.

“Electric vehicles, coupled with grid-friendly charging, offers a great opportunity, right now, to help electric companies integrate additional wind power into our electric system,” said Michael Kintner-Meyer, a PNNL staff scientist and co-author of the report Using Electric Vehicles to Meet Balancing Requirements Associated with Wind Power.

While growing in popularity, wind power is notoriously unpredictable – it’s not always there when you need it – and on windy days, grid operators struggle with ways to use excess energy or store it. And grid-scale storage is at this point pretty limited in the U.S. . . .

read the rest of the story:

World Watches BPA Track Wind Generation

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Think of it as a regional energy heart monitor. A near-real-time display of all energy feeding into the portion of the electric grid BPA controls has become one of the most-watched parts of BPA’s website. Instead of one line of heart performance, the new BPA monitor displays the output of all the wind, thermal and hydro generation in the agency’s balancing authority against the agency’s load. The display is updated every five minutes, every hour of every day and is now watched carefully by researchers, energy experts and curious onlookers around the world. Read the whole story.

The Peak Project Demand Response Pilot Takes Off

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

OPALCO has launched a demand response pilot called The Peak Project. The Peak Project aims to install demand response units (DRUs) on electric water heaters and Home Area Network devices in homes with central electric heating systems. See The Peak Project page for more information.

The first round of outreach targeted the Spring Point to West Sound area and response has been very good. More than 70 members have called in for a brief interview with Program Coordinator Marian O’Brien. The interviews take just a few minutes and if a member has an electric water heater, an installation can be scheduled right away with a local electrical contractor. Members with the previous Load Management Receiver (LMR) devices are having those units replaced with the installation of the new DRU units. The installation times vary, but are averaging about 1-and-a-half hours.

The Home Area Network installations will begin in January and include two devices:  a new programmable Smart Thermostat and In Home Display. These installations will go into homes with forced air electric heating, or electric heat pumps.

There are still installation slots available for the week of December 13th for demand response units on electric water heaters. We are still looking for member to participate in the Home Area Network installations beginning in January. Call Marian at 376-3587 to schedule.

Check out a recent news story from the New York Times about this regional pilot.

Automated Meters (AMI)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

OPALCO’s Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI) build out is about 45% complete with San Juan Island (and surrounding islands) scheduled for installation in 2010-11. AMI means smart meters, smart grid and in the future could provide a tool for members to monitor and manage their electric usage from home.

When the new smart meters are installed, members may notice an increase in their kWh usage because their old mechanical meter may have slowed down and become less accurate over time. The cost of covering the gap between inaccurately metered kWh usage and the actual power bill has been paid by all Co-op members through higher operational costs. With the new digital meters, your usage and costs are accurately captured which can help keep rates down for everyone.

The entire Co-op benefits from accurate accounting—and also from the remote access for meter reading, problem solving, outage resolution and—eventually—the load monitoring and management tools that come with an AMI “smart grid.”

To read more about AMI, click here.