Topeka, Kan., March 30, 2010 — Westar Energy, Inc. agreed with the U.S. Department of Energy for funding under the Smart Grid Investment Grant program.
Westar will now move forward with its SmartStar Lawrence project, bringing advanced smart grid technology to the Lawrence, Kan. area.
About $40 million in combined funding from the DOE and Westar will complete the project over the next 3 years. When completed, SmartStar Lawrence will offer customers the opportunity for more insight to their daily electricity use and cost information.
Improvements will also be made in the distribution system and in the supporting technical infrastructure.
The DOE grant provides for reimbursement of more than $19 million of the project cost. As part of the program Westar will report to the DOE on a regular basis the project progress and will be held accountable for achieving project milestones.
“We are pleased to reach agreement with the Department of Energy,” said Bill Moore, Westar Energy president and chief executive officer. “We look forward to bringing this new level of energy information to our customers and finding the things that work best to deliver great service in a flexible and environmentally friendly approach. This takes us further down the path of giving customers more accessibility to how they’re using electricity and choice. This smart grid technology will also help us better integrate renewable energy and emerging trends, such as electric vehicles.”
Smart grid technology is an approach to managing electricity systems. In the event of a power outage, for example, Westar will more easily determine the cause and restore power more quickly. Customers with smart meters and Internet access will be able to daily monitor how much electricity they use and how much it costs. The funding will allow Westar to implement the technology necessary to eventually support smart meters throughout the company’s entire service territory.
Moore said, “We will learn a lot from our experience with SmartStar Lawrence and we will apply what we learn in Lawrence as smart grid technology emerges as a new industry standard. Westar Energy leads the way in Kansas bringing this new, exciting and useful tool to our company and for our customers.”
Westar Energy is the largest electric utility in Kansas, providing electric service to about 684,000 customers in the state. Westar Energy has about 6,800 MW of electric generation capacity and operates and coordinates more than 35,000 miles of electric distribution and transmission lines.