Empowering a Smart Community

That's just what an electric utility did with the launch of its smart grid pilot project.

The future of utility grid technologies is unfolding in the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri, improving reliable service, reducing operational costs and enhancing opportunities for consumer management of energy costs. 

The stats behind the SmartGrid Demonstration Project (SGDP) in Kansas City's Midtown area might not seem overly impressive at first glance: 14,000 customers, 150-block radius, 11 highly automated feeders, a modernized substation and a variety of customer programs. However, by connecting them all with the right equipment, integrated software and experienced personnel, Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) created a model for the nation’s utilities to dream big. 

Partially financed by the U.S. Department of Energy, the $58 million project provided a fully integrated smart grid demonstration within the economically challenged area. 

“The goal of this project was to deploy end-to-end smart grid technologies to a small geographic footprint of the KCP&L service territory, focusing on interoperability and emerging smart grid standards,” says Meghan Calabro, an electrical engineer and department manager at Burns & McDonnell. “KCP&L then shared lessons learned with the industry so other utilities can benefit from the pilot project experience.”

This regionally unique area was turned into a controlled environment to test the impact of smart grid technologies, such as renewable generation, premise and grid energy storage resources, leading-edge substation and distribution automation and controls, energy management interfaces, and innovative customer programs and rate structures. 

Based on data gathered, KCP&L identified and quantified resulting benefits and technology gaps and examined best practices from project insights. The results? A successful pilot project showing that the reliability, efficiency and flexibility of the grid can be improved through the implementation of enhanced monitoring and control functions using commercially available systems, technologies and resources that interoperate over a secure communications network.

Following completion of the SGDP, KCP&L shared its findings with utilities across the nation and is using them to guide its planning process for companywide deployment of smart grid technologies. With the right equipment and systems in place, there’s more to come soon with the communities of the future.

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Meghan Calabro Department Manager 816-823-6006
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