Miami will spend an estimated $200 million on an ambitious smart grid project to insert smart meters in pretty much every building and residence in the city.

Miami-Dade County and Florida Power and Light today announced that under the Energy Smart Miami plant, funded in part by federal stimulus dollars, the utility would install smart meters on one million homes and buildings in the county. That essentially covers the entire city. 

Later, FPL will spend $500 million more to bring smart meters to the rest of its four million plus customer base.

The companies lined up on the project include General Electric and Silver Spring Networks, two of the more familiar names in smart grid, as well as a relative newcomer: Cisco. The networking giant formally entered energy management in January when it unfurled its EnergyWise software for controlling power consumption. Cisco has been promoting how its technology can curb energy consumption for the past few years, but the activity level has been building (see Cisco Jumps Into Energy Management for Computers, Buildings).

In the project, GE will supply smart meters, Silver Spring will provide wireless communications and Cisco will provide networking. Carol Browner, who coordinates energy policy at the White House, was on hand for the festivities along with FPL Group CEO Lewis Hay, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, Cisco's John Chambers and Silver Spring Networks CEO Scott Lang.

Like a lot of smart grid projects, Energy Smart Miami won't jump to energy management nirvana in one step. Most of the first smart meter deployments will be relatively simple. Only 1,000 of the homes, for instance, will be outfitted with in-home displays and smart appliances that will let consumers see their power consumption in real time and program appliances so they can cut costs during peak times.

These sort of applications, however, will become more prevalent as time goes on. The whole state of Florida, in fact, will likely become a key area for demand response services. Air conditioning can account for nearly half or more of the power consumed during peak periods, according to various experts.

FPL also will add 300 plug-in hybrids to its Miami-Dade fleet and install 50 charging stations.

The smart metering projects in Miami and Northern California are just a start. The United States has an estimated 140 million traditional power meters that could be upgraded, though so far the number of smart meters installed is in the low millions, according to recent estimates (see Smart Meter Installations Grow Nearly Fivefold). Canada has another estimated 10 million endpoints. Australia announced it would put in a million Silver Spring powered meters last week.

But North America is far from the only market. In fact, Europe likely holds the current lead, with at least 27 million smart meters installed by Italian utility Enel and millions more in other nations, according to a March report from ABI Research (see Notes From a National Smart Grid Experiment).

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