- The American Public Power Association (APPA) recently released a white paper, Creating a Smart City Roadmap for Public Power Utilities, that serves as a guide for municipalities and utilities considering a smart city program.
- The roadmap covers topics including the role of public power utilities in a smart city, engaging with public and private stakeholders, how to navigate which technologies to consider for the smart grid, cyber and physical security and how to choose employees to lead the smart city effort.
- The paper offers overall guidelines while recognizing each utility and the community it serves is unique and will require customized plans.
The term "smart city" is difficult to decisively define, as different aspects of technology, sustainability and equity all play a part, and each city focuses on a slightly different mixture. That dynamic has made it difficult for some municipalities to get a grasp on and begin a smart city journey.
Finding the right smart city role proves even more difficult for entities that provide only a portion of the overall services that make up a smart city, such as utilities. This roadmap serves as a resource to provide clarity and direction for public power utilities entering the smart city sector.
Exploring the smart city space early is a wise move for power utilities when considering how much of the sector relies on power-dependent technologies. Portland General Electric is among the utilities preparing, and in the fall it announced plans to file a proposal for the nation's largest smart grid test project.
Electric vehicles (EVs) and their charging infrastructure hold opportunity for utilities. However, some companies have publicly voiced concerns about the electric grid capacity needed to support EV charging once the vehicles become mainstream. The California Public Utilities Commission has been examining the topic for years to identify solutions for scaling and continuing to meet customers' growing electricity demands.