Are consumers benefiting yet from smart metering?

June 9, 2009 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

(or… “iPhones and AMI”)

eMeter attended several Smart Grid workshops recently at the California Public Utilities Commission. The common theme was reaping the consumer benefits of Smart Grid, and a big question was “how quickly can we do this?” It is a timely topic. AMI meters are getting rolled out in significant numbers amid great fanfare. Google heralded the arrival of its PowerMeter widget. But do these converging events live up to the promise of bringing energy awareness to the masses? The answer is “not yet”…but there is no reason to be bitterly disappointed.

Among the blog sites voicing pessimism about consumer benefits, Katie Fehrenbacher of Earth2Tech and Energy Circle’s blog about Hydro One’s Smart Meter deployment both argue that consumers don’t benefit from smart meters because they don’t have access to real-time usage data yet. While we agree that the more real-time the data is, the more meaningful action can be taken, we think it’s crazy to say that consumers don’t benefit.

When you think about it, AMI is already a game-changer for consumers. Already, hundreds of thousands of consumers with smart meters have access to detailed, next-day usage data on the Web, introducing them to the concept of their hourly usage and its impact on their bills and on the environment. And because of smart metering capabilities, participants in Pepco’s PowerCentsDC  “Smart Grid Capitol” project have had the benefit of email, phone and text messages alerting them to energy saving opportunities during critical peak times for the grid  – combined with smart thermostats providing the convenience of automatic, “set it and forget it” demand reductions.  They also get monthy print bill inserts with colorful explanations of their hourly usage and highlighted cost savings from participation in the program.  The enhancements and transparency are already liberating.

You may not be getting up-to-the-second alerts on your iPhone about kWh consumed, but is all that broadband “bling” really necessary? This is what it looks like updated to Twitter posts… as far as iPhone apps go, we think the ocarina is more interesting.

– Chris King

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Entry filed under: Chris King, consumer benefits, consumer energy feedback, Energy regulation, Smart Grid, smart grid benefits, Twitter. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

What’s the Smart Grid? How much bandwidth do you really need?

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