In the 1980s, municipally owned electric utilities across the country struggled to implement effective “load management” programs. Differing strategies were pioneered to deal with increasing electricity consumption and costs, particularly during peak load hours. In Kentucky, the City of Glasgow’s efforts to foster energy efficiency, known as the Fully Interactive Communications and Control System (FICCS), save Glasgow residents money on their electric and cable television bill by promoting competition.
The FICCS Project began with the construction of a community-wide broadband communications network, which would allow for electric energy management and competitive cable television provision. Glasgow residents can elect to receive an alternative cable television service to that which is provided from a private cable operator via the same wire on which citywide load management signals flow. The cable television service also enhances the effectiveness of the energy management function, since commercial availability times on major networks can be utilized to pass load management information to consumers. In an emergency, the programming can be interrupted to appeal for power usage reductions in order for the entire community to save money on its power bill.
Local independent school systems are also making use of this new technology to offer distance learning between schools, homes, and businesses. Other activities include development work in implementing a competitive telephone service modeled after the success of the competitive cable television service and instituting a community-wide two-megabit per second local area network. This network enabled collaboration between many local government agencies to create a sophisticated geographic information system. The GIS will spawn an enhanced 911 system for the community and lead to greater resource sharing between government agencies, thus enhancing government services and reducing costs to the people of Glasgow.
The single most important achievement of the FICCS program is the additional money remaining in Glasgow's retail economy as a result of the sharply lower rates charged for cable television in Glasgow. Since the project's inception, the immediate competitive environment in cable television has saved, by conservative estimates, nearly $4 million for the people of Glasgow.