Smart Grid is Headed to New Braunfels, Texas

By Joyce Deuley

Following the heels of Silver Springs Networks’ announcement of its integration of CEVA processors into its solutions, the platform provider has made strides in Texas by joining forces with the city of New Braunfels to begin smart grid development.

As one of the larger cities between the Silicon Hills (Austin and San Antonio), New Braunfels has seen exponential growth in the last decade, and as the tech scene, among others, continues to expand, we can expect to see more growth in the coming years. In fact, Yahoo just released a list of the Top 15 Fastest-growing Cities in the U.S., where 6/15 cities were in Texas, and New Braunfels ranked in at number 13 with 4.8% growth within the last year. To combat some of the challenges the not-so-small town may have in providing enough electricity to its new residents and businesses, New Braunfels has turned to Silver Spring Networks to help set up their new grid.

By integrating the CEVA processor into its Gen5 critical infrastructure platform, Silver Springs is able to deliver smart networking communications and smart grid, smart city, and IoT applications and gather real-time operational information right from the edge. “CEVA helps Silver Spring Networks generate multiple communication standards on a single platform, with the ability to upgrade in the field” said Eiran Briman, vice president of marketing at CEVA (M2M Now).

The enhanced platform will help the New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) deploy an application network across the city that will support the new Dynamic Metering Infrastructure program (M2M Now). This smart grid platform should help NBU better regulate control costs, improve response times during outages or emergencies, as well as to deliver more impactful services to New Braunfels residents.

Perhaps one of the reasons why New Braunfels is rolling out its own smart grid network has to do with its position along the I-35 corridor. Poised between the Silicon Hills, New Braunfels is also primed for businesses to cross over its boundaries, bringing additional opportunities with it, particularly with tech-centric businesses flanking it on either side. Because of this, the city needs to be prepared to better manage not just an influx of residents, but potentially large companies seeking to plug into their utilities infrastructure. And, as we all know, data centers can implement massive strains on local utilities.

Additionally, as a city with a population of 60,000 VS the million or so in either San Antonio or Austin, New Braunfels has the ability to deploy these solutions more rapidly and at a lower cost. In order for some of these larger cities to deploy these kinds of solutions, more red tape would have to be bypassed, effectively drawing out the project—and let’s not even mention the scale or potential cost of deployment.  Instead, New Braunfels is able to decisively team up with companies like Silver Springs Networks quickly and effectively, maximizing opportunities to future-proof its city in preparation for what’s to come.

Who knows, perhaps there is something to be said for smart city/smart grid deployments to begin on a smaller scale, not only as a means to test the waters, but also as a way to make smaller, even more rural towns more enticing, which could encourage tech firms to branch out further, allowing for widespread adoption and better management of resources and make cities across the U.S. more efficient.

Either way, by rolling out a smart grid solution in between Austin and San Antonio, New Braunfels is pushing the limits on its simple reputation as a beautiful, historic river town in South Texas. Instead, it is gearing up to be on par with the Silicon Hills—which means that we will have to develop another snappy title to describe all three cities much quicker than expected.