Greentech Lead America: Three electric cooperatives in
Minnesota — Great River Energy, Lake Region Electric Cooperative and Minnesota
Valley Electric Cooperative — have started $5 million smart grid demonstration
These three electric cooperatives have executed contracts
for hardware and software that will help modernize Minnesota’s electric grid.
The project is part of the National Rural Electric
Association (NRECA’s) $34 million grant program.
Great River Energy, Lake Region Electric Cooperative and
Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative will implement software systems to manage
large amounts of data collected from smart meters.
Other components of the smart grid project include the
installation of in-home displays to signal homeowners when electricity prices
spike; ability for customers to access their electricity usage data via the
web; enhanced demand response management tools; and demonstration of energy
storage devices, including residential battery storage systems and
grid-interactive electric thermal storage water heaters.
“This demonstration project will enable our cooperatives
and member-consumers to have a better understanding of the data available
through smart grid systems, while also providing for more strategic demand
response and load control programs,” said Gary Connett, director of demand side
management and member services, Great River Energy.
“With challenging service territories that cover more
than 70 percent of the country’s landmass, cooperatives are researching and
developing new technologies that can drive down costs and improve service for
their members. Consumer trust in their co-op has allowed cooperatives to
make these investments in leading-edge technologies,” said John Hewa, NRECA’s
Vice President of Research, Engineering and Technical Services.
NRECA’s research arm, the Cooperative Research Network
(CRN), is managing procurement of the software and equipment for the
demonstration project, including contracts.
Supported by a matching grant from the U.S. Department of
Energy, 23 cooperatives nationwide are participating in smart grid
demonstration projects, deploying more than 75 technologies and equipment in 12