WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Blake Moore (R-1st District) is fulfilling his campaign promise to address climate change through supportive involvement in a $65 million Department of Energy project to develop connected communities here in Utah.
“Getting involved in reducing emissions and other aspects of our climate challenges … has been one of the best parts of the past year in Congress,” Moore explained during a recent conference call with Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman.
“Making (those efforts) affordable is key. There needs to continue to be wide-ranging, broad-based support for this particular topic across the isle in Congress.”
Moore said that discussions with energy experts at Rocky Mountain Power here in Utah have taught him that the solutions to reducing carbon emissions can be found in alternative energy sources and better management of the power grid.
Moore and Speakes-Backman used that conference call to announce that Rocky Mountain Power will participate in one of 10 projects throughout the United States that will equip more than 7,000 homes and workplaces with the capability to interact with the local electrical grid to optimize their energy consumption while substantially reducing their carbon emissions.
Rocky Mountain Power will oversee development of a “connected community” in the southern portion of the 1st Congressional District, according to James Campbell, the director of Innovation and Sustainable Energy for the power company.
Campbell explained that the geographically-diverse experimental community will link an apartment complex, an affordable housing development, a transit center, a manufacturing/office facility and a research center at Utah State University.
Speakes-Backman added that the goal of creating connected communities of grid-interactive, energy efficient buildings is to use smart controls, sensors and analytics to communicate with the electric grid to reduce to amount of energy those structures require during period of peak demand. DOE officials predict that the capability to communicate this way will optimize the comfort of building occupants, lower utility bills and reduce electrical grid system costs.
Rocky Mountain Power’s share of the DOE project’s funding will be $6.42 million. That grant will fund the establishment of a program to manage solar collection sites, develop advanced storage batteries and install electric vehicle charging stations in a diverse connected community of all-electric buildings. Those structures will be equipped with the latest market-leading efficient technologies to optimize their collective energy use and provide grid services at reduced costs.
“Decreasing building sector emissions is a clean energy transition imperative,” according to Rob Chapman, senior vice president of energy delivery and customer solutions at the Electric Power Research Institute, another partner in the Connected Communities project. “This innovative project will help expand the number of energy efficient homes connected to the grid, providing cleaner, more resilient and affordable communities across the country.”
A recent DOE study estimated that, by 2030, grid-interactive buildings could save up to $18 billion annually in power system costs and cut 80 billion tons of carbon emissions.
That potential reduction in carbon emissions is the equivalent of the output of 50 medium-sized coal-fueled power plants or 17 million cars.
DOE officials say that their first two connected communities in Georgia and Alabama have already demonstrated their potential to use up to 44 percent less energy per household than the typical all-electric home.
“This work that Rocky Mountain Power is doing needs to be promoted, highlighted and commended because they are actually being part of the solution to this problem,” Moore concluded. “Too often politicians just banter back and forth about these issues. This is a clean path toward moving forward.”