The Pecan Street Project began as an initiative of Texas-based Austin Energy, which in 2009 received a Department of Energy grant to encourage electric cooperatives to demonstrate smart grid technology in real-world settings. And, thanks to matching funds, the Pecan Street Project -- named for one of Austin’s better-known thoroughfares -- was able to put $25 million toward developing, testing and implementing this new smart grid technology.
As part of the study, the Pecan Street Project created a web of smart-grid connectivity between 200 homes and several commercial businesses using smart meters that key into trending usage. The meters also provide feedback to customers. Customers can view and analyze their electrical usage by the hour, day or month. What’s most unique, however, is that the project includes the ongoing installation of enough electric vehicle charging sites that Austin could become the electric car capital of the U.S. In fact, participating residents have been offered deep discounts by Pecan Street and Chevrolet to lease or buy the electric-powered Chevy Volt. Pecan Street will monitor what effect the vehicles have on each household’s electricity usage.