Fountain Receives $2.1 Million Grant for Smart Grid Project

Fountain, Colorado -- The City of Fountain, Colorado, will receive $2,123,500.00 to help fund its smart grid energy management project. The grant is part of $3.4 billion investment in smart grid technology nationwide. Local matching funds will be leveraged to create jobs and investment.

"This is great news for Fountain and an example of a successful collaboration by four municipalities” states Larry Patterson, City of Fountain Utilities Director. The application for funding request came from Fountain, Fort Collins, Loveland, and Longmont, who teamed up to make a more attractive package for stimulus funding consideration. Fountain received the second largest amount of funding in the project, with Fort Collins receiving the largest amount.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided funding, the majority of which will go toward installing a communications infrastructure system, servers, software and 16,000 smart electric meters. Currently, residents have to wait until they receive their electricity bill to learn how much power their homes consumed in the previous month. Installing the "automated meter infrastructure" will provide better communication on energy use between customers and energy providers. It opens up innovative possibilities, offering customers the choice to have energy use information at their fingertips. This system will enable integration of local renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, and future plug-in electric vehicles.

Customer chooses whether to utilize in-home features to reduce energy consumption and monthly bill

“While every outside meter will be replaced, it's up to the customer to decide whether to utilize the enhanced features of the in-home display and switches to help cut their energy use to lower their bills” states Mike Vialpando, the Fountain Smart Grid Project Manager. In addition to the voluntary option of choosing enhanced features that enable in-home displays and smart thermostats, other optional features available at the customer's request include air conditioning and electric water heater control switches.

The grant money will also pay for automated switches for the city's electrical grid, which will allow Fountain Utilities to continuously optimize the grid.

"The switches allow us to automatically reconfigure our system to operate more efficiently, and reduce outage time" states Mike Vialpando. “Electrical grid security measures will also be paid for with the grant money,” he concludes.

Meter replacements will start in mid 2010 and utility customers will be notified when their replacement is scheduled. For more information about the Smart Grid project, contact Customer Service at 719-322-2010.

About Fountain Utilities

Fountain Utilities, an enterprise of the City of Fountain, delivers electricity and water to the City of Fountain and electricity to Widefield and portions of Security. The Electric Department serves approximately 40,000 residents of the Fountain Valley.

About the City of Fountain

The City of Fountain is a full service municipality with its own electric and water utilities. Fountain is one of the fastest growing communities in El Paso County, with a recent 7% average annual growth; translating to about 400 - 500 new home starts a year. Its current population is approximately 21,000, according to 2006 Census Bureau estimates. Founded in 1859 and incorporated in 1903, Fountain remains one of the oldest incorporated towns in the Pikes Peak region. The Mayor and a 6-member City Council governs the city, with advisory boards and commissions such as the Planning Commission, Park and Recreation Board, and the Economic Development Committee. The City Manager administers all the departments. Fountain is a Home Rule City.

The city's community spirit and commitment to constantly improving the quality of life helped to make Fountain an “All-American City” in 2002. Two years prior, the city was proclaimed the “Millennium City” because the local socioeconomic profile so closely mirrored that of the USA. A brand new library, new city hall and first class school facilities are evidence of the teamwork. For more information, go to www.fountaincolorado.org.

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