Smart meter benefits are becoming a reality in terms of both reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money.
These devices have been around for a few years now and the initial rebuke around home privacy invasion is starting to subside as consumers start to realize the benefit to them and why they make a lot of sense to the overall system. If you don’t have one yet, Green Blizzard is going to try and convince you to look into it with your local power company.
What’s Behind Smart Meter Benefits?
Our electric power grid was developed when coal was cheap and the downsides (greenhouse gases) were not even recognized. On top of that, our power plants were designed for maximum demand – peak loads days during a summer heat wave. The challenge has been that these peak demand loads have steadily marched upward because of population growth and our thirst for more energy. Typically power demand either currently or soon will exceed power generating capacity. The rub has been between the option of should we build more power plants, spot-buy power from other areas of the country (at a premium) or better manage within our current generating capacities?
From a Green Blizzard perspective, building more carbon fueled power plants (coal, natural gas, oil) is a step in the wrong direction. Let’s use what we have in a smarter way! Let’s be smarter consumers.
One way as a group is to let the suppliers know what are power demands will be going forward and how much of our consumption can be shifted within our lifestyles
In a report to the California Public Utility Commission, the Structure Consulting Group found that PG&E’s smart meters were incredibly accurate. Yet, the real potential of these new gadgets is that they enable the utility to more precisely inform their consumers how much electricity they’re using across the 24 hour day and then sell the electricity based on its demand (value).
Power suppliers could sell consumer non-peak power at lower prices and incent consumers to shift whatever consumption they can to the off-peak demand periods. In short, smart meters can help customers be better educated, smarter, money-saving consumers.
They can also offer new and enhanced services. Baltimore Gas and Electric in Maryland (a subsidiary of Constellation Energy) recently received approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission to replace all of their traditional meters with smart meters. BGE will implement a new pricing structure where all customers automatically earn rebates by curtailing energy consumption during high demand periods when the grid is stressed and wholesale power prices are high.
Smart meters benefits
Pilot studies from across the country show that knowledgeable consumers can significantly reduce their electric bills under such dynamic pricing structures.
Smart meters will help utilities manage their own operations, too. Virginia’s Dominion Power, for example, concludes that smart meters will help them run their distribution grid more efficiently. This will ultimately result in reducing the amount of electricity they have to generate by roughly 5 percent. These savings will reduce customers’ bills enough to fully offset the cost of the meters over 15 years, and they will cut pollution and strain on already maxed-out energy grids.
The challenge now is consumer education about power consumption and once we start seeing our power consumption reported by the hour and day online, we can start to make lifestyle adjustments to take advantage of low peak pricing.
Just a few basic opportunities: running the dishwasher at night powering down the home PC and cable boxes during the day and during sleeping hours, adjusting the thermostat on the fly, remotely turning off any inadvertently left–on lights or devices, recharging the car and batteries at night.