A Google Earth Smart Grid

on July 21, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Managing a sprawling electric grid can be costly and wasteful.

To better manage data points over its large geographic service area, the California Independent System Operator –which manages about 85% of California’s electricity–has installed an 80 by 6.5 inch screen in its control room that combines four information sources, overlaid on a Google Earth map, to display real-time information on where transmission lines are located and how and where electricity is being used.

This information can be used for demand response energy management as well as for determining which power generation source to use at any given time. If the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, the data immediately relays that information and ISO workers can determine where from where to draw power.

For more on demand response management, read: Demanding A Response: Federal Play For The Power Grid.

When California wildfires threatened power lines in 2008 and 2009, the ISO’s Space-Time Insight software was crucial in locating endangered power lines. It was quickly adopted for general use in managing electricity and may soon see further growth into various other energy markets as well.