Urban Fold

Boulder's Smart Grid 'Bloody Nose'

Three years ago, Boulder grabbed international attention when it announced plans to construct a "smart grid" of high tech tools to help cut its electricity consumption. But that project has gone way over budget.

Despite the project racking up huge costs, city leaders are still pushing it forward, arguing that as early adopters of a new idea they had to expect some hurdles.

"Xcel spent $44.8 million on SmartGridCity, a whopping three times what the utility had planned to spend alone. Xcel argues that the pilot project - which relied in part on donations from corporate partners to cover a total budget of $100 million - was the best way to get answers on how to roll out smart grid more widely. 'Somebody has to go out first, and get a bloody nose on it. That's the bleeding edge of technology,' says Ken Wilson, Boulder's deputy mayor who is also a smart-grid consultant.

Getting the smart grid right is hugely important, not just for Boulder but for cities everywhere. The concept of the smart grid is to use information technology, such as sensors and digital meters, to help cities mitigate the strain of rising energy use. In theory, the smart grid allows utilities and consumers to make smarter choices about power usage."

Full Story: For Electricity 2.0, a Short Circuit in Boulder

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