• Jun 19, 2011
Modernizing the U.S.' antiquated electrical grid is a task that will likely take decades to complete, but at least we're off to a good start with more than five million smart meters installed nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Smart meter technology allows consumers to monitor energy consumption and costs and, in some cases, easily enables owners of plug-in vehicles to charge up at off-peak (i.e., nighttime) rates.

What's more, an 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, resulting in a savings of $20.4 billion for consumers and a tiny sliver of that cash would undoubtedly go to plug-in vehicle owners.

With millions of plug-in vehicles forecasted to hit U.S. streets in the years that lie ahead, the installation of smart meters is vital to reduce vehicle operating costs and make the transition to battery-powered autos more affordable.
[Source: U.S. Department of Energy | Image: this lucid moment – C.C. License 2.0]
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Five Million Smart Meters are Installed Nationwide

More than five million smart meters have been installed nationwide as part of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded efforts to accelerate modernization of the U.S. electric grid, DOE reported on June 13. Smart meters provide utility companies with greater information about how much electricity is being used throughout their service areas. The meters also give consumers access to real-time information about their energy consumption, allowing them to make informed decisions about how they use their electricity.

Transforming the current electric grid into a more intelligent system involves a wide range of advanced technologies, including smart meters, which will improve the reliability and security of the grid. Such meters will allow for the integration of renewable energy sources and help prevent blackouts and restore power more quickly when outages occur. Nearly 90% of the meters installed to date are in Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas.

In one project being implemented to help consumers manage their electricity, Florida Power & Light Company is deploying an advanced metering infrastructure; as of April 30, the company had installed 1.8 million smart meters. A project of CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric involves deploying a fully integrated advanced metering system and Web portal access to over 2.2 million customers; the company has installed 1.3 million smart meters.

DOE also announced a plan to create a data map that will allow consumers to contribute data and information about their electricity provided by their utility companies. The map will show where quality information is available nationwide based on voluntary consumer input. DOE will work with stakeholders during the summer to design the website that will launch in the fall. See the DOE press release and the SmartGrid.gov website.


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  • 15 Comments
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      I SAID many times that hydrogen is better.
      q3a7vodk4
      • 3 Years Ago
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csvmw2frBws
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Smart meters are very popular with Electric companies since they are generally on wireless networks such that they can save money by not sending out meter readers. However, we are really not taking advantage of what they can do.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The electrification of the North American vehicle fleet is not dependent on smart meters. The issue is availability of locally delivered power for simultaneous re-charging. If you are using what is called a Level 1 (110 service) charger that plugs into a standard wall socket the load is like running a kitchen appliance or window air conditioner. Charging at this level does not cause a problem. We already have over a million and a half of light electric vehicles (scooters and bikes) on the grid today with no problem. Electric drive automobiles charged at home can be a problem if they are charged at Level 2 (240 service) and clustered in a particular neighborhood. Again, no smart meter required but it would be helpful for the utility serving the area to be sure the neighborhood transformer can handle the equivalent to everyone running their clothes dryer during the same hours each night. If you follow this blog as I do and have added up the potential number of chargeable automobile sized vehicles to be manufactured it will take years to exceed a half million. Even if we decided a smart meter is needed for each new car we only need 10% more smart meters than we have already installed. Some jurisdictions are getting around the expense of smart meter installation costs by requiring that Level 2 chargers and higher have a means of being turned off for periods of time by an automated system that ties into the utility company computer whether or not a smart meter is installed on the home. The information can be transported over the cellular network. Electrification of the North American vehicle fleet is not being held up by the lack of smart meters, even though smart meters would be beneficial.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        If you buy a Leaf, Nissan asks if it is OK for them to tell your power company. So the EV makers are keep the utilities informed about the EVs sold such that the utilities can upgrade local transformers if they see a cluster. I just noticed a guy on the block next to mine bought a Leaf.
        skierpage
        • 3 Years Ago
        I agree EV proliferation is not dependent on smart meters. Owners probably want a Time of Use meter so they can get a discount night-time charging, and then the utilities need to man up and offer incentives to EV owners through their smartphones to avoid blackouts and overloads, and even buy back electricity. But utilities are so used to getting what they need from regulators, I have my doubts they'll deal fairly with their customers.
      q3a7vodk4
      • 3 Years Ago
      What's with this smart meter advocacy? these dumb meters are a bad idea for several reasons. 1. Privacy. the information they transmit can tell people a lot about about your daily routine and if you're on vacation what type of appliances you use and when etc. This stuff is not encrypted and any joe schmoe can spy on you. Not to mention some utilities put this online for everyone to see. Regardless, even if it were encrypted, I don't want my utility company to know this stuff about me. 2. They're finding a lot of 'old broken meters' excuses to raise people's bills. Oh hey your old meter was reading low, now we can see we need to charge you more. In fact many people find they're suddenly getting much higher bills and being told their usage went up right after the new meter. No recourse for them so far either. 3. They can turn off your appliances remotely. I'm not joking. They can turn off your AC on a hot summer day or any dumbified appliance for any reason they want whenever they want. I don't know about you, but I'm not keen on this. It also makes it easy to shut off all your power with a mouseclick. They're nefarious enough I don't want them to have these options, imagine if a script kiddie gets into their systems. 4. They can now charge you EXTRA for 'peak' usage. Yeah, sounds great to me. 5. They will charge you for the price of the meter. They build it into your bills and spread it out so you don't notice it. 6. They are astroturfing on the internet to pretend public opinion is more in favor of these than it really is: http://www.bansmartmeters.com/blog/2011/05/busted-centerpoint-energy-anonymously-posts-negative-comments-on-anti-smartmeter-websites/ I mean come on, you know if they have to force a technology down our throats it's not because we're going to benefit from this. From the point of view of this website, right now your electric car can already control when it charges itself. Placing a dumb meter on your house means THEY can now also stop your EV from charging and there ain't a thing you can do a bout it. That's DUMB.
        GoodCheer
        • 3 Years Ago
        @q3a7vodk4
        Hi q2a7vodk4 Can you please provide a link to a utility company demand response program that is not a) optional, and b) you get paid for participating in. Thanks. ...Also, if I know where your house is I can tell when you're on vacation anyway.
        EJ
        • 3 Years Ago
        @q3a7vodk4
        "They can turn off your appliances remotely. I'm not joking. They can turn off your AC on a hot summer day or any dumbified appliance for any reason they want whenever they want." This can only be done if you have a new appliance with a Home Area Network (HAN) chip installed, and enabled. Even then, unless you gave them explicit permission to access your network and make changes, they would be perpetrating a number of federal computer crimes if they just starting flipping stuff off. I'm all for open information, but chicken-littling this information hurts more than it helps.
        q3a7vodk4
        • 3 Years Ago
        @q3a7vodk4
        Furthermore. ALL of the possible improvements to the power grid can be done upstream, on higher voltage sections with NONE of the disadvantages listed above.
      q3a7vodk4
      • 3 Years Ago
      Smart meter opt-out carries huge price tag: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2011/03/25/6983pges-smart-meter-opt-out-plan-carries-big-price-tag7/ And by the way, having a smart meter installed does NOTHING to reduce energy consumption unless they start controlling your thermostat, fridge, washer and drier, dishwasher and all of your other appliances. They don't need your permission. First they say this stuff is opt-in, then they say it's opt-out but you have to pay for it, then they take away the option. Look at California and Texas. Just like the telecommunications act of 1996. Your phones have a federally mandated back door. Every phone has one and it allows them to turn on your phone and record you, film you, track you or send whatever 'announcement' they want. You think you own your technology? you used to, you don't for the past decade.
        GoodCheer
        • 3 Years Ago
        @q3a7vodk4
        Well, that's a wireless billing program, which is not the same as a demand management program, so I'll wait for you to supply one of those that is not voluntary and compensated. How the utility chooses to monitor your consumption of its product seems to me to be its business. If you require them to do extra work (by having someone drive out to your house to read a meter) then charging you for that makes all the sense in the world to me. Put another way, if I have wireless billing, then why should I pay extra for you to get special service (because if they don't charge you for the house-call, then they must charge all users by putting it on the rate base).
      GR
      • 3 Years Ago
      Anyone know how someone could get a smart meter installed in their house?
        Richard Gozinya
        • 3 Years Ago
        @GR
        I don't know, my utility company went ahead and did it earlier this year. I think California's trying to do a total switch, or maybe it's just SDG&E.
        skierpage
        • 3 Years Ago
        @GR
        Wait for the utility to roll them out in your area. Or install solar PV; the utility will probably have to set you up with a "Better Meter" that supports "running backward" and time of use measuring. However, that Better Meter may not provide "real-time information about their energy consumption", mine doesn't
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