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Fort Collins, Colorado on Track to Net Zero

November 18, 2010 - 2:23pm


Just like traffic has peaks at rush hour, electricity demand rises and falls at particular times of day. During electricity’s peak periods, power plants turn on gas-fired turbines and other supplemental energy sources to produce extra electricity -- above and beyond their normal generating capacity. These generation methods are often less efficient than normal generation, using more fuel and creating more emissions to produce the same amount of energy.

The City of Fort Collins, Colorado, is embarking on an exciting new project that aims to reduce peak demand and help the city reduce its energy footprint to zero. Yes, zero.

Funded in part by a grant from Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE), the FortZED Jump Start project has a simple goal: to create as much energy as it uses. The project integrates demand-side resources, distributed and renewable power sources, and smart grid technologies to create a net Zero Energy District (ZED), a key first step in the city’s long-term effort to reduce its energy use, boost energy efficiency, and increase the use of cleaner sources of power.

Unlike many other demonstration projects built from the ground up, the FortZED smart grid is being created in an existing location, modernizing the existing energy distribution system to incorporate smart grid technology. According to the utility, the FortZED project has the potential to create hundreds of permanent new jobs focusing on clean energy, power conservation and the systems to support smart grids. The concept can be replicated in communities nationwide, stimulating local economies and putting us on track to energy independence.

A new video about FortZED describes how the city plans to achieve its goals. It clearly and simply explains peak demand, describes a smart grid, and explains how smart grid technologies help integrate renewable energy resources.

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