More on Smart Grids

Smart grids that allow users to get real-time pricing for the electricity they buy is gaining some federal support:

Both the House and Senate versions of the pending energy bill encourage the use of smart grid technology, but don’t mandate it. Both call for an updated study of the subject. More significantly, the House bill authorizes a Smart Grid matching grant, which could go to either the utilities or the customers, with total funding of $2.25 billion through 2012. That’s at least a start towards the $14 to $26 billion the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission estimates it would cost to install the technology nationwide.

Not surprisingly, most of the early adopters are west coast utilities, who labor under growing demand, shrinking supply and a series of greenhouse emissions mandates. But a couple of east coast companies are looking at the smart grid idea, too, including Baltimore Gas & Electric and PEPCO.

What are the chances for a smart grid test in Virginia? There are some legislative hurdles, plus plain, old-fashioned inertia:

…for smart grid technology to succeed, states must lift regulatory barriers to allow variable rates, and more utilities must take the plunge.”

In other words, don’t hold your breath waiting for the General Assembly or Virginia Power to make the leap.

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3 responses to “More on Smart Grids”

  1. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    This is a great idea. The State Corporation Commission should be all over this.

  2. We have that ‘option’ here in Portland … it’s an option that is seldom used (I know, I worked in billing for the local power company for awhile). If you chose that plan, you basically had to change your life around so that you did your dishes, your clothes washing, etc. during non-peak hours, typically after 10:00 at night. For folks who were graveyard workers and never flipped to daytime schedules on their days off, it was fine. For the rest of the folks it isn’t much of a real option.

    We also have ‘green’ options where you can pay more money than regular rates and you power can ‘come’ from ‘green’ sources like wind and solar. I don’t see the sense in it but with the liberal whack jobs that live out here its been a small success.

  3. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    Really Smart Grids would be a wonderful thing.

    A Really Smart Grid (RSG) would charge what it cost to deliver the energy to that location at that time, not just time variable.

    Since over half the energy that is put into a big grid is wasted by the time it gets to the end user, the saving could be huge.

    That is especially ture if the co-generators were rewarded for providing power closest to the demand.

    For dumber sorts of smart grids the dishes and washer after midnight is not a big deal since most new equipment has one to 12 hour delay features.

    The biggest savings would come from stopping using energy to light and heat and cool places that do not need it.

    Take a look as any night airphoto. If you can see a light from an airplane and it is not on a runway, it is a waste.


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