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Xcel Energy has announced plans to make Boulder, Colo., the nation's first fully integrated smart grid city.

According to Xcel Energy, the advanced, smart grid system - when fully implemented over the next few years - will provide customers with a portfolio of smart grid technologies designed to provide environmental, financial and operational benefits. The company anticipates funding only a portion of the project, and plans to leverage other sources, including government grants, for the remainder of what could be up to a $100 million effort.

"Smart grid city is the first step toward building the grid of the future," says Dick Kelly, Xcel Energy chairman, president and CEO. "In Boulder, we'll collaborate with others to integrate all aspects of our smart grid vision and evaluate the benefits. The work we're doing will benefit not only Boulder, but also customers throughout our eight-state service territory."

According to Xcel Energy, the smart grid city could feature a number of infrastructure upgrades and customer offerings, including:

- transformation of existing metering infrastructure to a robust, dynamic electric system communications network, providing real-time, high-speed, two-way communication throughout the distribution grid;

- conversion of substations to "smart" substations capable of remote monitoring, near real-time data and optimized performance; and

- integration of infrastructure to support easily dispatched distributed generation technologies, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid technology, battery systems, wind turbines and solar panels).

Xcel Energy and its Smart Grid Consortium will study the city's electricity infrastructure to develop a scope and preliminary design plan for implementing the changes. The first phase of the smart grid city is expected to be in place by August, with implementation throughout the city continuing through 2009. Beginning in 2009, the consortium also expects to begin an initial assessment of the technologies.

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