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EEI Celebrates Infrastructure Week

​This week, EEI and its member companies join other industries in celebrating National Infrastructure Week, an initiative highlighting why “Infrastructure Matters” for American jobs, economic competitiveness, and security. 

The electric power industry is America’s most capital-intensive industry, and EEI’s member companies—the nation’s investor-owned electric companies—operate infrastructure of breathtaking scale and complexity. EEI's member companies invested a projected $122.8 billion in 2017, a sixth-straight year of record-high capital expenditures, to build smarter energy infrastructure and to transition to even cleaner generation sources.

These investments benefit customers by enhancing electric reliability, reinforcing resiliency, and creating the innovative energy solutions they want. The industry’s investments also have a direct economic impact in every state in the form of jobs created and taxes paid. The smarter energy infrastructure that electric companies are developing and deploying is critical to delivering safe, reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean energy and to driving America’s innovation and prosperity.

Infographic
Smarter Energy Infrastructure Powers America's Homes and Businesses
Customer Solutions
Smart Meters Support Innovative Energy Solutions

​Smart meters are a critical component of a smart grid, giving customers greater control and flexibility over their energy use; allowing electric companies to respond to and fix outages more quickly; connecting more clean energy resources efficiently; and better securing energy infrastructure against cyber and physical security threats, including natural disasters.

A report from the Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI), Electric Company Smart Meter Deployments: Advancing Grid Modernization and Customer Solutions, finds that electric companies installed more than 75 million smart meters by the end of 2017, covering 60 percent of U.S. households—up from 72 million smart meters installed at the end of 2016. The report forecasts that this number will grow to 90 million by 2020.

“While deployment of smart meters began a decade ago, electric companies continue to find ways to create value from the data and capabilities smart meters enable,” the report notes. “Investing in the distribution grid, particularly in smart meters, is the foundation for a customer-facing, modern energy grid.”  

The IEI report also highlights how electric companies are using smart meters to benefit customers: “During the historic 2017 hurricane season, smart meters were instrumental in the speedy recovery efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in August and September.”

Read the report here​.

Delivering Innovation
The Energy Grid Powers Smart Communities

​Smart communities are built on smarter energy infrastructure and use data and technology to help drive efficiencies, improve sustainability, spur economic development, and enhance quality of life for their citizens. Across the country, communities and electric companies are collaborating to make communities smarter through smart street lighting, smart transportation, smart buildings, distributed energy resources, microgrids, and data analytics and intelligent services.

These elements of smart communities benefit customers and communities in many ways. Here are just a few electric companies that are partnering with their communities to deliver smart community benefits:

  • ​Kansas City Power & Light has installed more than 1,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, including fast DC chargers, and has matched $23 million in federal funding to build a microgrid demonstration project that includes smart meters, smart substation technologies, energy storage, and solar in a 2-square-mile area with 14,000 commercial and residential customers.
  • Baltimore Gas and Electric is converting all of Baltimore’s streetlights to energy saving LEDs and is supporting efforts to install 6,000 new pedestrian lights to brighten communities and to improve public safety.
  • AEP Ohio is upgrading thousands of streetlights to networked LED fixtures in Columbus, where the company also plans to invest $7 million to install 1,275 EV charging stations and to purchase 48 additional EVs for its fleet. Enabling these innovations is AEP’s deployment of 132,000 smart meters in central Ohio. AEP plans to upgrade another 542,000 meters in the Columbus smart city footprint.
As the number of smart communities continues to grow, increased electrification and the integration of new and advanced technologies will create new opportunities for collaboration among electric companies, community leaders, technology companies, other business partners, and citizens to achieve these goals.

Learn more in EEI’s factsheet, interactive infographic, and smart communities web page​

Powering Mobility
Electric Transportation Gets Customers and Communities Moving

​Electrifying transportation offers numerous benefits for customers and communities, including increased efficiency, improved sustainability, economic growth, and energy security. In addition to electric vehicles (EVs), electrification is taking hold in public transit, delivery vehicles, ride-sharing applications, ports and airports, and more. 

The EV market is growing fast. There are about 840,000 EVs on the road in the United States, and total EV sales for 2017 increased 26 percent compared to 2016. In the first quarter of 2018, sales increased 32 percent compared to the first quarter of 2017, and March 2018 was the best EV sales month ever, with more than 26,000 EVs sold. 

As cities and communities seek smart, sustainable mobility solutions, electric transportation is a critical component—including EVs, public transit, and charging infrastructure. Electric companies are expanding customer access to EV charging infrastructure by deploying more than 20,000 EV charging stations across the United States.

To help transportation electrification reach its full potential to benefit customers, the economy, and the environment, it is vital that public policies permit electric companies to deliver the solutions customers need to adopt EVs, including providing charging infrastructure; investing in smart grid technologies; and creating the smarter energy infrastructure underpinning smart communities. 

Read more in EEI’s factsheet and in this column by Lisa Wood, vice president of customer solutions at EEI and executive director of the Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI). Read about EV trends and key issues and more facts and figures about EV sales​

Clean Energy
Permitting and Siting Reform Ensures Customers Get the Energy They Need

To ensure that energy can get where it is needed, when it is needed, it is vital to streamline and expedite the federal process for permitting and siting energy infrastructure—including transmission, natural gas facilities and pipelines, and hydroelectric and other renewable energy facilities. Doing so will simplify and update the process for obtaining federal permits and approvals for infrastructure investments.

Today, electric companies are working to meet customers' needs by building and using smarter energy infrastructure, by providing even cleaner energy, and by creating the energy solutions customers want. Since 2007, the mix of resources used to generate electricity in the United States has changed dramatically and is increasingly clean. More than one-third of U.S. electricity now comes from zero-emissions sources (nuclear energy and hydropower and other renewables). In addition, natural gas surpassed coal as the main source of electricity in the United States for the second year in a row in 2017. 

The electric power industry is leading the way on renewables, providing virtually all the wind, geothermal, and hydropower—and 69 percent of the solar energy—in the country. The industry's universal (or large-scale) solar projects accounted for 59 percent of newly installed solar capacity in 2017. Learn more about the industry's leadership on clean energy in EEI's infographic​.

With the right public policies in place, electric companies can maintain and accelerate their investments in smarter energy infrastructure to deliver the safe, reliable, affordable, and increasingly clean energy that customers need.

What We’re Reading
EEI's Brian Wolff on Infrastructure Week

​“From supporting more than 7 million American jobs to underpinning communities in all 50 states, our industry is much more than an American success story—we’re an integral dimension of all American success stories,” writes Brian Wolff, EEI executive vice president of public policy and external affairs, in the latest issue of Electric Perspectives

“Our industry is focused on several major initiatives in the area of infrastructure investment, but the investments EEI’s member companies are making have one focus in mind: to benefit customers.”

Read more.

What We’re Watching
Smart Communities Are Powered by Smart Connections

​Learn more about how electric companies’ investments in smarter energy infrastructure and partnerships with communities, technology companies, and other stakeholders are accelerating the promise of smart communities in EEI's video​.

In the News
Edison Award Finalists Highlight the Value of Infrastructure Investments

​An independent panel of reviewers has selected DTE Energy, Indianapolis Power & Light Company, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Xcel Energy as finalists for EEI’s 2018 U.S. Edison Award. ATCO and State Grid Corporation of China were named as finalists for the International Edison Award. The 90th annual Edison Award will be presented in June at the EEI Annual Convention in San Diego.

A common theme unites the finalists and their innovative energy solutions: their commitment to developing, deploying, and using smarter energy infrastructure to benefit customers: 

  • DTE Energy announced a $15-billion broad sustainability initiative that plans to cut carbon emissions by more than 80 percent by 2050 while continuing to provide reliable and affordable energy for its 2.2 million customers. The company has reduced carbon emissions by nearly 25 percent from 2005 levels and has invested approximately $2.5 billion over the last 10 years in Michigan’s renewable energy sector. 
  • Indianapolis Power & Light Company is the first electric company to use a distributed temperature sensing system to monitor external high-temperature threats to its underground network to enhance safety.
  • San Diego Gas & Electric’s investments in infrastructure have enhanced grid resiliency and have reduced weather-related vulnerabilities to enhance reliability for customers. The company has developed a comprehensive fire risk mitigation program that includes investments in fire-hardening, increasing situational awareness, updating operating protocols, and improving the region’s ability to respond to wildfires.
  • Xcel Energy is advancing and enhancing reliability throughout the upper Midwest and driving renewable energy development through its CapX2020 transmission program, the largest new transmission project in the Midwest in nearly 40 years. CapX2020 will connect 4,000 megawatts of wind and solar energy to customers.
  • ATCO, in partnership with Quanta Services, was awarded the first-ever competitive public-private partnership contract for large-scale transmission infrastructure in Alberta: the Fort McMurray West 500-kilovolt Transmission Project. ATCO and Quanta Services showcased a firm commitment to Indigenous and community engagement, dedication to the environment, innovative engineering design and construction methods, and a comprehensive approach to system performance and reliability.
  • State Grid Corporation of China has developed the Smart Internet of Vehicles EV Charging Network, which allows the company to expand its electric vehicle (EV) capacity and provides a robust, integrated, flexible charging network that is essential for EV growth and deployment in China.

Read more about the 2018 Edison Award finalists in EEI’s press release​.

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