Modernizing the U.S. electrical grid is a task that will most likely take decades to complete. At least we're getting started now, with more than two million smart meters installed nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Smart meter technology enables consumers to monitor their energy consumption and costs and, in many cases, allows owners of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids to charge up at a reduced, off-peak (i.e., nighttime) rate. While these first-gen smart meters don't directly communicate with vehicles, they do provide information that can be beneficial to owners of plug-in vehicles.

A recent analysis conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute suggests that smart grid technology could reduce our nation's electrical usage by more than four percent annually by 2030. EPRI's reduction estimate may sound minuscule, but it would result in a savings of $20.4 billion for consumers and a fraction of that amount would undoubtedly go to plug-in vehicle owners. During a recent event in Ohio, U.S. Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, outlined the importance of smart grid meters, stating:
As a result of an unprecedented investment from the Recovery Act, smart meters are being installed in Ohio and across the country to create a more reliable, modern electrical grid and give consumers the ability to monitor and control their energy use. Smart Grid technologies will give consumers choice and promote energy savings, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy resources.
With (hopefully) millions of plug-in vehicles hitting U.S. streets in the coming years, the installation of smart meters is a vital step to reduce vehicle operating costs and make the transition to battery power, well, smarter.

[Source: Department of Energy | Image: this lucid moment – C.C. License 2.0]

PRESS RELEASE

Secretary Chu Announces Two Million Smart Grid Meters Installed Nationwide
Over 180,000 in Ohio Will Help Consumers Save Money, Reduce Their Energy Use


Columbus, OH - At an event today at Battelle headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that two million smart grid meters have been installed across the country, helping to reduce energy costs for families and businesses. As a result of funding from the Recovery Act, smart grid technology is speeding the modernization of the nation's electrical grid, helping to reduce the amount of time needed to respond to energy disruptions and enable consumers to monitor their energy consumption and costs. So far, more than 180,000 smart meters have been installed in Ohio.

"As a result of an unprecedented investment from the Recovery Act, smart meters are being installed in Ohio and across the country to create a more reliable, modern electrical grid and give consumers the ability to monitor and control their energy use," said Secretary Chu. "Smart Grid technologies will give consumers choice and promote energy savings, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy resources."

An analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that the implementation of smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4 percent annually by 2030. That would mean a savings of $20.4 billion for businesses and consumers around the country each year, and more than $700 million for Ohio alone -- or $61 in annual utility savings for every man, woman and child in Ohio.

Battelle is collaborating with American Electric Power (AEP) on the Ohio gridSMART demonstration project to upgrade the electric grid in northeast central Ohio. At Battelle, Secretary Chu toured the smart grid technology suite and saw firsthand how Battelle energy technology experts are translating basic and applied energy R&D into innovative commercial solutions, products, and services for the nation's electric grid. These efforts will improve grid reliability, increase grid efficiency, lower consumer energy consumption and costs, reduce peak demand, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

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