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Local Government Commission



An Energy Newsletter for Local Governments

EPIC Releases Smart Grid Study

The Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC), a nonprofit academic and research center at the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law, released a new study that finds that implementing “smart” communication and control technologies on the electric grid in the San Diego Region is not only technically feasible, but also could be cost effective.

“The unprecedented heat wave in July and August reminded us how fragile our electric infrastructure can be and how important reliable energy is to the health, safety and prosperity of all residents in our region and state,” commented Scott Anders, EPIC Director. “We experienced outages in our region that might have been avoided if we had a “smarter” electric grid that could — in almost real time — identify and take actions to correct problems on the system.”

The report identifies the key technologies needed to create an intelligent framework in the region and recommends a timeline for implementation, including several near-term research, development and demonstration projects. As part of the cost benefit analysis, the report identifies numerous potential benefits of implementing a Smart Grid. Benefits include reduced service outages, congestion costs and peak demands, along with increased system asset utilization, improved security and tolerance to natural disasters.  In addition, implementing the Smart Grid could increase integration of distributed energy resources (e.g., rooftop solar system), and reduce emissions.

“Based on the preliminary cost-benefit analysis in our study, we found that the expense of implementing a Smart Grid likely would be offset by benefits to the utility system and society in general,” continued Anders. “We think it is important to start a dialogue about whether it is time to modernize our electric grid to provide better controls, advanced communication technologies and to allow customers to more easily generate their own power.”

The San Diego Smart Grid study was conducted by SAIC and funded equally by San Diego Gas & Electric and the Utility Consumer’s Action Network.

EPIC co-sponsored a conference to discuss in more detail the costs and benefits of implementing a Smart Grid in the region. The two-day event took place October 25-26 at the University of San Diego. 

To download a copy of the report, see the EPIC website (

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