How much bandwidth do you really need?

June 10, 2009 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

More iPhone musings

In a recent post we made the case that consumers are already benefiting from smart metering, because it is such a game-changer to have this much available intelligence about energy usage to begin with. What is the path from here to truly enlightened consumption – that nirvana of every cost-benefit analysis of smart metering?

eMeter bloggers, having worked with meter data for 20 years,  think the answer is to translate the data into Convenience, Cost Savings, and Community: save money easily while helping the environment.

Cameron Brooks of Tendril stated at a CPUC workshop on Smart Grid that if every home and business in the United States had a smart meter, the data could be captured on 100 iPhones. Let’s tease this statement out a bit. Data volume (simple, raw gigabytes) must not be confused with data transactions. Sure, you could store a day’s worth of raw data from 140 million meters in 100 iPhones, but so what? We can’t think of anything useful an iPhone could do with it (such as prepare it for billing and deliver it to a billing system). You could probably extract one person’s data and graph it, but you couldn’t do that for 140 million people.

Brooks’ real point was that ubiquity and access are more important than bandwidth.

The simple fact is, there are no benefits without IT. The IT side should not be a barrier, and it isn’t – but not because IT is easy. The IT part is actually very, very hard; however, it is not expensive (it’s less than 5% of the total AMI capital investment).  And utilities like Alliant and those participating in Canada’s centralized MDM/R havealready overcome those IT challenges .

If electricity users are to be full beneficiaries of the energy trading market, we need to get to the granularity of hourly interval data; we want both consumers and producers to have complete and timely access to this knowledge for decision-making; and we want well-designed choice architecture so that on both ends, the most efficient and beneficial options can be exercised. On the IT side, all this can happen if we continue to automate data exchange, set national communication standards for the smart grid, and make metered usage data available in formats easy for energy management software to interpret for users.

Fresh thinking around this is going on right now at Connectivity Week… We’d love to hear your comments.

– Chris King

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

Are consumers benefiting yet from smart metering? Giving customers more of a stake in Demand Response programs

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