Broadband-Enhanced ‘Smart Grid’ Provides Energy Savings and Enhanced Economic DevelopmentFiber, Gigabit Networks, Smart Grid May 31st, 2013
Josh Evans, Reporter, Broadband Census News
WASHINGTON, May 31, 2013 – High-speed broadband is the key to optimizing energy usage, said Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy, at Thursday keynote speak at the annual Better Buildings Summit sponsored by the United States Department of Energy.
Richard, the former mayor of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, described the advanced energy industry as a highly meaningful economic opportunity, noting growth rates that dwarf those of many other industries. The intersection of energy with the internet appears to be especially promising.
“Some have predicted that this opportunity is greater than the opportunity of the internet economy to date,” Richard said.
Richard recognized a number of cities that have carried out successful programs to optimize energy efficiency, with EPB Fiber Optics of Chattanooga, Tennessee, among the most successful.
Chattanooga created a “smart grid” system utilizing an ultra-high-speed gigabit-per-second broadband network consisting of thousands of smart switches and meters. Among many other functions, the network allows them to reroute power almost instantaneously when power lines go down.
Richard cited the case of a particularly severe outage during which power was restored within six minutes. Authorities estimated that they would have taken about four hours to restore power under the previous system.
Such functions have clear economic benefits, he said. Businesses are no longer hindered by significant power outages. Additionally, the smart grid system has reduced electricity rates for consumers.
Richard also emphasized the importance of collaborating with the private sector in establishing more energy efficient cities. He noted how useful private investments could be in building green energy infrastructure.
Such relationships are mutually beneficial In that the local economy benefits from green energy in the form of greater employment, reduced environmental impact, lower energy use, and business growth.
During the eight years that Richard served as mayor of Fort Wayne, he implemented a number of programs to save energy and create jobs, and he was named Government Leader of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
The Better Building Summit, subtitled “Unlocking the Clean Economy,” aims to provide resources for state and local leaders to implement more energy efficient policies in their communities. The event included speeches and panel discussions of various strategies for implementation.
According to Richard, integration of the internet is crucial for such implementation and has the potential to bring about significant improvement in energy.
“The world will run on secure, clean, affordable energy,” he said.