California has by far and away been the most aggressive state when it comes to smart meter deployments. The state's utilities have fought protesters along the way, but have managed to roll out millions of the devices. While this is great for the smart grid and for the utilities who now get a constant stream of real-time information about energy demand from their customers via the wireless meters, customers still haven't had an in-home way to view their own energy use.
Many utilities offer ways for smart-meter-connected homes to log onto the utilities' web portals and view energy history information, but it's usually day-old information, not a real-time stream.
One California utility has launched a program to encourage customers to buy devices that will let them have a smart-meter-to-home energy device connection that will enable them to see that stream of information right in their homes. Southern California Edison is offering a $50 rebate for the Rainforest Energy Monitoring Unit (EMU), an LCD-screen energy display unit that will give eight-second updates on their current home energy usage along, accumulated usage and pricing information, as well as any other messages from the utility.
Having the information presented in such a convenient way can help customers manage their energy use and save energy and money where they can.
The device itself costs $59, so customers only have to put in about $10 to get all of that information displayed right in front of them. The device doesn't require any special installation; just plug it in, go through a quick set up process with the utility and you're done.
Other utilities have tried smart-meter-to-home programs, but this one is larger than most, mainly because there are so many different technologies right now to choose from that there hasn't been a consolidated effort.
Greentech Media reports, "It’s all part of a big new push in California to make smart meter available to utility customers. SCE and fellow utilities San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric have deployed smart meters through almost all of their territories, and they’ve also been piloting ZigBee meter-to-home technologies for years now. But they’ve been slower to meet the California Public Utilities Commission’s requests to turn those smart meters’ ZigBee radios on en masse.
Beyond the cost and complexity of turning on a whole new communications and control channel for multi-million-endpoint AMI networks, there’s the question of which technologies to sink investment into, and when to do so. PG&E has argued that the industry should wait for a key standard for home automation, Smart Energy Profile 2.0, to be formalized before proceeding with commercial-scale deployments."
SCE has decided on a method which involves tagging each Zigbee-enabled EMU device sold with a unique identifying number, then homeowners have to log into a utility web portal (or call an 800 number) and give that code to have their device synched up to their home’s smart meter.
San Diego Gas & Electric plans on offering a similar Rainforest EMU rebate program too in the coming weeks.