Smart grid a good investment for all

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The U.S. Department of Energy awarded the Guam Power Authority a $16.7 million smart grid ARRA grant in 2009. GPA issued bonds for its 50 percent funding match. Over 400 utilities across the U.S. applied. DOE awarded 100 grants ranking GPA's proposal the fourth highest. GPA has until Dec. 31, 2013 to complete the project.

GPA's smart grid program is in full swing. Installation of advanced metering infrastructure and smart meters began Oct. 1. Several smart grid work streams will build upon the advanced metering/smart meter foundation: substation automation, distribution automation, meter data management system, e-portal, outage management, mobile work force management, load control management, and demand response/customer energy programs.

The Public Utilities Commission consultants, Georgetown Consulting Group, recommended approval of the smart grid program based on $338 million of net benefits to GPA and its customers over 15 years.

Smart grid offers many benefits for customers. GPA can read smart meters remotely, providing more privacy for residents, fewer estimated meter reads and easy on-demand reads.

Smart grid will enable many operational savings and benefits to GPA. Reducing system line losses reduces fuel and other energy production costs. GPA performs between 600 and 800 truck rolls and about 4,500 work orders for reconnections and disconnections each month (that's a huge number). Smart grid allows remote reconnects and disconnects for residential accounts. This saves gas, labor and vehicle costs, and overall operational expense (which means cost savings through efficiencies for rate payers).

Smart grid will provide high-quality real-time operational and financial information which will help both GPA and ratepayers make better decisions. Smart grid will replace tedious, manual, error-prone processes with faster, more efficient, less costly automated processes. Smart grid touches every GPA functional area that will improve on business process and ultimately system efficiency.

Smart meters automatically notify GPA about customer power outages and power quality issues helping restore power more quickly or preventing an electrical problem in their home.

Future technology
Customers will be able to see their prior day's electric use and history using GPA's web-based e-portal to better manage energy usage and save them money. The smart grid program will allow GPA to offer future services such as pre-paid service, "time-of-use" rates, energy analysis tools and energy services beyond simply providing electricity -- these future services are tailored to reduce ratepayer power bills.

In time, customers solely, at their option, can direct GPA to turn on their smart meter feature allowing an in-home display device to communicate wirelessly with a smart meter. Customers could then monitor their electricity usage and costs in real-time, similar to the price and quantity displays on a gas pump.

Increased efficiency
Smart grid technology will also allow ratepayers the opportunity to install a Home Area Network to control thermostats, water heater, or other smart appliances within their homes. All of this leads to increased efficiency and cost savings.

In time, customers could request to receive automatic alerts (via emails or text messages) to notify them of when the electricity consumption exceeds a pre-determined threshold, when there is an outage, or when there is a power quality problem.

GPA hopes that because of the smart grid program and other GPA investments in capital improvement projects, renewable energy, and fuel diversification, GPA will be able to save you money on your power bills and provide you better energy solutions.