5.5 Million Smart Grid Stimulus to MGE Customers

Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is receiving a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. MGE will use the grant to install technologies to boost efficiency, enhance service and improve reliability for customers.

The stimulus grant will help fund the following projects, which will begin next month:

Advanced metering infrastructure

MGE will install meters capable of two-way communication for all large commercial and industrial customers. The equipment monitors and analyzes customers’ energy consumption patterns on an hourly, daily and seasonal basis. The information will be used to educate customers about their energy use and how they can conserve energy and lower emissions. The meters also will be used for outage notification and tracking power quality.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles support

MGE will also install a network of up to 18 public and 25 residential charging stations for electric and electric hybrid vehicles in the Madison area. MGE will study the impacts of vehicle charging on the electric power grid and on home energy use and demand.  

Distribution management

MGE will also install new distribution/management capabilities. During an outage, MGE system operators will be able to quickly identify the best options for restoring and rerouting power to reduce outage times.

MGE generates and distributes electricity to 138,000 customers in Dane County, Wis., and purchases and distributes natural gas to 142,000 customers in seven south-central and western Wisconsin counties. MGE’s parent company is MGE Energy (Nasdaq: MGEE). The company’s roots in the Madison area date back more than 150 years.

For more info click here


Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

Now that Toyota’s plug-in hybrid development is no longer a secret, the company is putting plug-in prototypes on the road in Japan and California to further improve the technology. The Toyota Plug-in HV, a test platform based on the production hybrid Prius, has been approved for public road use by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport – the first certification of its kind. Toyota will field eight vehicles in Japan to verify the electric-only cruising range and optimal battery capacity.

The Prius PHEV is based on a third generation Toyota Prius (model ZVW30) outfitted with 5.2 kWh lithium-ion batteries co-developed with Panasonic,which enable all-electric operation at higher speeds and longer distances than the conventional Prius hybrid.

The Prius plug-in total all-electric range is 13 mi (21 km) with speeds up to 62 mph (100 km/h).The lithium-ion battery pack can be charged in 180 minutes at 100 volts or in 100 minutes at 200 volts.The Prius plug-in is rated at 134 mpg-US (1.76 L/100 km; 161 mpg-imp) with a combined efficiency based on a 43.6 % of driving in EV mode and CO2 emissions of 41 g/km. Fuel efficiency operating as a gasoline-electric hybrid, like the regular Prius, is 72 mpg-US (3.3 L/100 km; 86 mpg-imp) with CO2 emissions of 76 g/km.

A global demonstration program involving 600 pre-production test cars began in late 2009 and will continue in 2010 in Japan, Europe, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.The commercial version is expected to sell for around USD 48,000 (ouch)  and production during the first year is expected to vary between 20,000 and 30,000 units.

The Plug-in HV features two major changes over the production Prius. Toyota has doubled the battery capacity to 13 amp-hours by installing a larger nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery pack. Accordingly, the overall weight of the prototype is about 70 pounds greater than a stock Prius. Toyota says the larger NiMH battery pack is meant to simulate the level of performance the company expects to achieve when it eventually develops its own more compact and powerful battery systems, presumably with lithium-ion batteries. The other major modification is the addition of plug-in capability. Plugging into a standard 110-volt household outlet via a socket located on the rear fender will fully replenish the batteries in three to four hours.

The increased battery capacity means electric-only driving range is extended to approximately eight miles. The Plug-in HV is also capable of driving electrically at speeds up to 62 mph before the 1.5-liter gasoline engine turns on. Maximum electric-only cruising speed in the production Prius is 42 mph. This electric-only range is not as great as some of the unofficial Prius conversions that have been demonstrated in California and elsewhere. Nevertheless, Toyota reportedly claims that even with this experimental number, substantial gains in fuel economy and a major reduction in total tailpipe emissions over current conventional hybrid systems can be achieved.


The Prius Plug-in uses three different batteries, two to provide all-electric drive and a third battery engages when the first two are depleted, allowing the car to operate in hybrid mode, like a regular 50-mpg Prius. According to Toyota, when the vehicle starts, the plug-in operates in all-electric mode, drawing electrical power directly from the first battery pack. When its charge is depleted, it disconnects from the circuit and the second pack engages and supplies electrical energy to the motor. When the second pack is depleted again it disconnects from the circuit and the system defaults to conventional hybrid mode, using the main battery as the sole electrical power source. Pack one and pack two will not reengage in tandem with the main battery pack until the vehicle is plugged in and charged.

Demonstration program

According to Toyota a total of 600 Prius plug-in demonstration vehicles will be available for lease to fleet and government customers, 200 will be delivered in Europe and 230 Japan in late December 2009, along with 150 models to be released in the U.S. by early 2010. All program vehicles will be sent to limited geographical areas and will be equipped with special data tracking devices designed to allow Toyota to monitor the car’s usage for further development of the plug-in hybrid system.


In March 2010 Toyota launched its demonstration program in Canada with five Prius Plug-ins in partnership with academic institutions, hydro-electric producers, and governmental agencies in each of the four provinces participating in the program, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Québec. Canada is home to Toyota’s global cold weather research center in Northern Ontario, and the country’s cold weather will serve to evaluate its adverse effect on battery performance and range.


Toyota wil lease approximately 200 units in Europe, with approximately 100 going to Strasbourg, France. Other countries where the Prius Plug-in Hybrid will also be introduced are the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, Netherlands, and another eight European countries that are being considered


The demonstration program in Strasbourg was launched in April 2010.The 3-year program involves around 100 Prius Plug-ins and the deployment of dedicated charging infrastructure. The program will set up more than 150 charging points at private parking lots of firms participating in the program, user homes, public parking lots and on public roads


The demonstration program in Germany will be conducted in Baden-Württemberg with ten Prius Plug-ins and the corresponding dedicated charging infrastructure. The program will be run by German energy provider EnBW.

United Kingdom

The demonstration test in the U.K. will include only 20 Prius plug-ins.


In Japan, TMC will lease approximately 230 units to government ministries, local governments selected for the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s EV & PHV Towns program, corporations such, as electric power companies, and other entities

For more info click here

Smart Grid Systems in your Neighborhood?

While Advanced Metering Infrastructure, which allows wireless communication between utilities and meters, has been going in across the country for over a decade, it is only recently that they have been developing into smart grid systems.

Could a smart grid system be growing in your area?

Smart grids are one step up from AMI on the evolutionary ladder because they allow two-way communication between homes and utilities and the ability to remotely control appliances and power consumption, which leads to accurate real-time pricing by utilities, and accurate monitoring and conservation. Utilities can send response demands to homes, such as requesting them to turn down a thermostat during peak hours, homeowner energy use habits can be tracked and adjusted, and a more honest and fair pricing system leads to better conservation abilities.

AMI is the root of developed smart grid systems, but many issues stand in the way of progress, including standardization and wireless connections. However, getting smart grids up and running is increasing in priority level, as we see with some of the massive projects highlighted here.

A new report published by The Climate Group entitled “SMART 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age” goes into detail about how implementing this rapidly growing technology could help cut a significant portion of emissions, and even further, save global businesses a whopping $685 billion annually.

That savings is making everyone’s palms itch.

In which part of  development are the the U.S. So where are we at in terms of integrating smart grids here in the US? Well, we’re definitely still taking baby steps. Thanks to the help of SmartMeters and a handy Google Map, we’ve gathered up the up-and-running smart grid projects currently happening in the states.

if you wanna take a look in you area click GoogleMaps

Tax Credits to Plug-in Cars

In a few weeks, Ford will become the third auto company to see federal incentives for its hybrid gas-electric cars completely vanish. Tax credits for Honda hybrids bit the dust at the beginning of last year, and Toyota hybrid credits completely phased out in late 2007.

The clean vehicle incentives instated in 2005 provided tax credits, as much as $3,400, for 60,000 buyers per each automaker before a phase-out period of 16 months. Ford reached the 60,000 hybrid mark before April 1, 2009—so beginning on April 1, 2010, there are zero tax credits for a Ford Fusion Hybrid or Ford Escape Hybrid. Tax credits remain for hybrids and clean diesel vehicles from General Motors, Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW—but with the exception of the VW Jetta TDI, these are low volume vehicles.

Instead, legislators have jumped to the next technology breakthrough: tax credits for plug-in hybrids and electric cars. A combination of local and national credits—up to $7,500 at the federal level, plus a $2,000 credit for charging equipment installation, plus state-based incentives— represent so far the largest bundle of incentives for private purchasers of green electric-drive vehicles.

Yet, these grid-enabled vehicles are not yet available—and when they arrive in later 2010, they will be expensive (even with tax credits) and available in limited supply. This is a good argument for generous tax credits to jumpstart the market. However, the first wave of buyers of plug-in cars will be highly motivated early adopters—a group likely to buy regardless with or without large tax credits. Meanwhile, there won’t be an incentive for some mainstream buyers who need a slight nudge to go hybrid.

The phase-out of incentives for conventional hybrids, combined with the slow rollout of plug-in hybrids and EVs, could mean a multi-year gap in the right incentives for the right markets for greener vehicles.

See a summary of the hybrid and clean diesel tax credits for all years, and the appropriate forms. The exact amount of your credit may vary. Please consult a tax professional.

Federal Tax Incentives

Energy Tax Credits for Hybrids

The phase out of incentives for conventional hybrids, combined with the slow rollout of plug-in hybrids and EVs, could mean a multi-year gap in the right incentives for the right markets for greener vehicles.

Smart Grid City

What is this?

SmartGridCity is the nation’s first fully integrated smart grid community and will boast the largest and densest concentration of these emerging technologies to date. The selected city is Boulder, Colorado.

Boulder is the right-sized city for a project such as this, and offers an ideal mix of residential and commercial customers. It’s home to academic and research institutions (including Colorado University, National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology) already working with this emerging technology and studying long-term benefits.

What companies are working for this project?

Xcel Energy and another companies are  working with a group of public and private partners, including the City of Boulder, on this upgrade. Founding partners in our Smart Grid Consortium include Accenture, Current Group, GridPoint, OSI Soft, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Ventyx.

Xcel Energy has announced plans to build out an entire community that combines traditional and cutting-edge technology to modernize our energy grid and provide new, innovative ways to provide you with the best service possible. SmartGridCity is the nation’s first fully integrated smart grid community and will boast the largest and densest concentration of these emerging technologies to date. Boulder, Colorado has been selected as the site of SmartGridCity.

Now, in September 2009 has completed construction of the infrastructure and launched the remaining software to enable all SmartGridCity operational functions. this step makes it the first fully functioning smart grid enabled city in the world that increases reliability, provides customers with greater energy use information, and allows participating customers and Xcel Energy to control in-home energy management devices remotely when demand calls for it. 50,000 homes in Boulder will soon be decked out with the latest in environmentally-friendly, energy-saving technology — including solar panels, electric cars and, for some, a specialized heating, cooling and lighting system — all of which will be integrated into a monitoring system that reports the home’s carbon footprint to the homeowner.

The SmartGridCity project also included automating three of four distribution substations, four computer-monitored power feeders, and another 23 feeders that are watched for voltage irregularities. Approximately 200 miles of fiber optic cable, 4,600 residential and small business transformers and nearly 16,000 smart meters are now connected to the smart grid system.

The SmartGridCity construction phase on the network “backbone” was recently completed. The collaborative effort involved the resources of the Xcel Energy’s Smart Grid Consortium, including Accenture, CURRENT Group, GridPoint, OSIsoft, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, SmartSynch and Ventyx.

A grid-state monitoring system, installed by CURRENT Group, is one of the technologies being used to develop information to proactively reduce outages. By analyzing real-time data retrieved from the sensors deployed on the distribution grid, this system significantly minimizes low-voltage issues as well by automatically detecting them and allowing Xcel Energy to proactively address potential problems.

Xcel Energy will soon be seeking customers for testing of in-home energy management devices. The devices will be used to validate and enhance the customer energy management experience and response aspects of the SmartGridCity pilot project.

For graphical ideas click here


Suzuki To Launch E100 Cars In Brazil and US in 2010

The Nikkei reports that Suzuki Motor Corp. plans to develop flex-fuel cars that can run completely on 100% ethanol (E100) and launch them in South America and the US in around 2010.

As a first step, the company plans to begin selling in Brazil and elsewhere a passenger car fueled by a gasoline-bioethanol mixture that is 25% bioethanol by the end of March.

Suzuki has decided to accelerate development of ethanol cars because demand for them is expected to grow worldwide, with various efforts underway to develop technologies for producing bioethanol from non-food crops, such as rice straw.

Suzuki is also reportedly considering a hybrid option for a 3-liter mid-size car by leveraging its joint development efforts with GM, as well as launching its diesels, which it sells in India and Europe, in Japan.

source: greencarcongress