'Smart grid' would save energy, cut costs for US consumers

Jan 05, 2011

Momentum is building for a new energy "smart grid" that would overhaul the U.S.'s 100-year-old electrical power network. The impact would be huge –– from installation of a new web of electrical transmission lines to smart meters to control home appliances. The meters would offer consumers discounted rates if they use electricity at off-peak hours. A key objective of the $1.5 trillion dollar plan is "time of use" electricity pricing that would increase the cost to consumers of energy at peak mid-day hours and lower it at others, according to an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN Senior Correspondent Jeff Johnson reports that the smart grid revolution is getting underway right now in various degrees at U.S. utilities. The federal government also is involved. The U.S. Department of allocated $4.5 billion in American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds for smart grid R&D. It includes installation of sensors, monitors, and other equipment, including millions of smart meters for customers.

One part of the plan involves installation of home energy management systems that enable appliances to directly communicate with the grid about energy needs through the smart meter. Last month, GE rolled out what it described as the first complete home management system, linking hot water heaters, refrigerators, thermostats, and other appliances through a home computer and wireless connection to the smart meter and grid. The system will give consumers the opportunity to control energy use and use electricity when it is cheap and plentiful, and helping electric utility companies make better use of current power generating capacity and avoid building new power plants.

Explore further: New battery technology for electric vehicles

More information: "Growing demand for renewable energy, electricity spurs SMART GRID push". This story is available at pubs.acs.org/cen/government/89/8901gov1.html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CSIRO Builds Smart Energy System

Mar 22, 2006

CSIRO technology will help to reduce black-outs and improve the reliability and efficiency of the electricity grid while reducing greenhouse emissions. It will also complement smart electricity meters promising consumers ...

The Smarter Electric Grid Of The Future

Apr 12, 2010

The smart grid idea aims to save money, reduce pollution, lower costs, and create new "green" jobs. Smart grid is a phrase that refers to a number of things at the same time. It refers to the modernization ...

Obama unveils historic power grid reform

Oct 27, 2009

President Barack Obama Tuesday announced the largest modernization of the US electricity grid in history, in a 3.4-billion-dollar bid to launch a new era of renewable energy consumption.

Recommended for you

New battery technology for electric vehicles

18 hours ago

Scientists at the Canadian Light Source are on the forefront of battery technology using cheaper materials with higher energy and better recharging rates that make them ideal for electric vehicles (EVs).

Company powers up with food waste

Nov 19, 2014

Garden products company Richgro is using Western Australian food waste to power their operations in a new zero-waste system.

User comments : 10

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Jan 05, 2011
Wouldn't save "consumers" even one penny.

No matter what, the energy companies will charge as much as they can possibly get away with charging, and they'll even add new fees too.

It's the capitalists first commandment:

"Thou shalt screw over thy neighbour in every way imaginable."
Shootist
1 / 5 (3) Jan 05, 2011
QC, you're light a few bricks. It's the enviro-communists who back proposals such as this.

I swear to 'He Who Shall Not Be Named" that NO ONE will turn off my hot water heater, or AC, or anything else, even if I have to rewire the house myself.

If we're short of generating capacity, build more nukes.
St_Samples
not rated yet Jan 05, 2011
Does anyone really believe that utility companies will lower the cost in non-peak times? My bet is that they just raise the cost during the peak times and we will see no returns.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (4) Jan 05, 2011
Will home/business based generation be allowed?
Solar panels on roofs, or home based natural gas generators or business that fire up their backup generators can add power to the grid, if it makes economic sense. Saves transmission losses, too.
trekgeek1
3 / 5 (2) Jan 06, 2011
enviro-communists


So environmentalists embrace communist political ideas? Or is it that communists must also be environmentalists? Or is it that you are only blaming those who possess both environmental concern and communist politics? Hmmmm..... weird term you've coined, almost idiotic. Let's make another term consisting of unrelated labels. "libertarian-lumberjacks", and they will be blamed for..... ummmmmm........ tax breaks for chainsaw manufacturers. I know, I know, we both miss McCarthy and his single handedly scaring away the communists. check your closet before bed.
ab3a
5 / 5 (2) Jan 06, 2011
The "smart grid" effort is best described as a "smart load" project. Generation, Transmission, and Distribution have already been made "smart" for many decades.

The industry is attempting to find a way to encourage people to save energy by charging more when the supply is tighter, by making people aware of the cost, and by allowing for local generation capability to supplement the power on the grid using sources such as Photovoltaic cells on customer roofs.

Another point: this is not one technology. This is a gaggle of technologies applied in a coherent fashion. It's nothing particularly new or revolutionary. Electrical engineers have been doodling these ideas on cocktail napkins for decades. However, it will require a major re-investment in infrastructure and the old infrastructure is finally reaching a point where it may need replacing. Thus, we are now looking at the "smart grid" concept for updating the grid our grandparents built.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Jan 06, 2011
I swear to 'He Who Shall Not Be Named" that NO ONE will turn off my hot water heater, or AC, or anything else, even if I have to rewire the house myself.
Good luck with that.
If we're short of generating capacity, build more nukes.
It's not a matter of being short. Do you think running a power plant and generating power that no one is using is helpful or cost effective?
Wouldn't save "consumers" even one penny.
I know when I want to save some cash I just leave my car running in the driveway for hours with no where to go. /sarcasm
Will home/business based generation be allowed?
It is and has been for quite a while now.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (2) Jan 06, 2011
SH:

You're pretty naive if you think power companies would pass along any "savings" to the consumer.

The guy above you even admitted they are looking for ways to charge you more...
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Jan 06, 2011
You're pretty naive if you think power companies would pass along any "savings" to the consumer.
You're pretty naive if you think I am talking about saving money for a power company by having the consumers use less of the company's power services when they don't need to.
The guy above you even admitted they are looking for ways to charge you more...
Of course they are, they are a services based business and we've started using less of their services. Try reading the entire post above mine rather than just the first 3 words of a paragraph. Just to make it easy for you, here it is again.
The industry is attempting to find a way to encourage people to save energy by charging more when the supply is tighter, by making people aware of the cost, and by allowing for local generation capability to supplement the power on the grid using sources such as Photovoltaic cells on customer roofs.
Justsayin
1 / 5 (2) Jan 08, 2011
Looks like the powers that be are pushing hard for this smart grid. Hurry up is all I hear and I wonder why? Because they know they need to get this monstrosity of government funding done and out the door before it is not needed........httpwww.physorgcom/news187031401.html

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.