Lethbridge is the first community in Western Canada to introduce new technology aimed at improving the energy efficiency of its electric distribution grid that delivers power to customers throughout the city.
The City is implementing grid optimization technology, on a trial basis, that safely lowers the operating voltage of the electric distribution system. With this slight lowering of the system voltage, the technology ensures that electricity continues to be delivered to all customers well within national standards set by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The expected result will be small energy savings for individual customers that add up to a significant reduction in overall power consumption and demand for the whole system.
"The beauty of this technology is that we expect we can reduce our community's overall power consumption and peak power demand by as much as four percent without the need for residential, commercial and institutional customers to change their behaviour," says Stew Purkis, Electric Utility Manager for the City of Lethbridge. "With full implementation, we expect that could amount to energy savings of up to 33,600 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity – the equivalent of removing 4,400 homes from the grid."
In 2017, the City of Lethbridge completed the conversion of all electric utility customers to new, more advanced electric meters that provide the utility with a near real-time picture of individual customer and overall peak demand and consumption for electricity in the city. The data provided by the new metering system is required to leverage new grid optimization technologies which can potentially increase grid efficiencies and lower customer bills.
"Lethbridge is being innovative and being a leader in the use of new technology designed to enhance energy efficiency and create savings for customers," says Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman.
For the trial, the grid optimization technology is being implemented at one of the city's six electric substations. If the trial is successful, the City will look at deploying the technology across the whole city. Alberta Innovates is a funding partner on this ground-breaking initiative, which utilizes technology developed by Virginia-based Dominion Voltage Inc. (DVI).
"Alberta Innovates is thrilled to be a partner on this smart grid project," says Maureen Kolla, Manager, Clean Power and Heat for Alberta Innovates. "Innovative projects like this will provide Alberta's electric distribution companies with the tools to reduce GHG emissions while maintaining safe and reliable electricity for Albertans. This pilot project is the first to be developed and funded as part of the Alberta Smart Grid Consortium. Alberta Innovates, along with the other Consortium partners continue to work collaboratively to accelerate the development and deployment of other smart grid initiatives in Alberta."
Following is a link to a DVI video that explains the technology in more detail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uco3UuHbVk&feature=youtu.be.
"It is very rewarding to see an electric utility so passionate about bringing benefits to its customers, to the environment and to their distribution grid," said Todd Headlee, DVI executive director. "DVI is equally as passionate about working with the Lethbridge Electric Utility to complete this very important project which is likely to be a model for this region in Canada."
Gerald Gauthier, Communications Consultant
City of Lethbridge
Julia Necheff, Communications Specialist
Janell Hancock, Senior Communications Specialist
The Alberta Smart Grid Consortium consists of Alberta Innovates, Alberta Energy and the Alberta Distribution Facility Owners (DFOs), consisting of ATCO, ENMAX, EPCOR, FortisAlberta, Alberta Federation of Rural Electrification Associations (AFREA), EQUS, and the Cities of Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer. The purpose of the Consortium is to work collaboratively on projects to accelerate the development and deployment of smart grid initiatives in Alberta.
The City of Lethbridge's CVR pilot project is the first project developed through the Consortium to receive funding from Alberta Innovates. To optimize project outcomes and broadly share project learnings, the Consortium members have formed a technical advisory committee.
Alberta Innovates is a provincially funded corporation with a mandate to deliver 21st-century solutions for the most compelling challenges facing Albertans. We do this by building on our province's research and technology development strengths in the core sectors of health, environment, energy, food and fibre, and platforms such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and omics. We are working with our partners to diversify Alberta's economy, improve our environmental performance and enhance the well-being of Albertans through research and innovation.