Xcel Energy has filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval to build a $562 million advanced grid project that would give it the ability to monitor and control its distribution system.
Xcel said the new smart meters and support systems would improve reliability, provide for better integration of rooftop solar, and give customers more information about how they use energy.
In the filing, Xcel said the new system would make new rate structures possible, but it has not yet proposed a cost recovery mechanism for the meters. If approved, the utility would roll out the program between 2017 and 2021.
Xcel Energy, situated in the wind-rich central U.S., has been one of the more active utilities in purchasing renewable resources. Earlier this year the utility began preparations to beef up its grid to accommodate higher penetrations of renewables and distributed generation and allow customers to better control their usage.
Its $562 million Advanced Grid Intelligence and Security (AGIS) proposal, submitted to the PUC this week, includes tools that would enable customers to use less energy. It would also link household meters to the utility's control centers
Xcel’s currently has the ability to read meters automatically, but those meters cannot send the voltage and power quality data needed for close to real time monitoring and automation.
“Our customers are becoming increasingly interested in new technologies, such as advanced home applications, battery storage, private solar and electric vehicles," David Eves, president of Xcel Energy-Colorado, said in a statement.
He said the AGIS system would support the two-way flow of energy and data and facilitate customer investments in rooftop solar and energy storage, as well as help locate and isolate faults and outages.
The installation is part of the "Our Energy Future" program Xcel rolled out in January.
Xcel is the latest in a trend of large utilities upgrading their distribution management system to respond to consumer demand for new technologies and increased control. AEP tapped GE for a new system in March, and Austin Energy announced in January they would launch a new platform.
The global market for advanced distribution systems is expected to grow from $687.2 million in 2015 to $1.79 billion by 2021, according to a recent report.