Smart Metering - Utilities Net-Linked To Your Home Thermostat


Nothing fires up the anti-government crowd like an energy tax. Even if the revenues are for developing more reliable energy sources, the reaction is fury. We're making an analogy here. How will people react to proposals to hook the internet up to their home appliances, enabling electricity distributors to control the air conditioners of entire populations? And home pool pumps? Ovens? There's a few among us who'll buy window air conditioners and solar-powered pumps just to avoid succumbing to this hippie designed UN world governance plot. (Next project - programing minds to automatically hear early Frank Zappa compositions, exclusively.) But what about the rest of us? Especially the ones who want to avert blackouts and curtail demand growth so as not to have add more coal-fired generating capacity? Tell us. Would you want a smart meter hooked-up to your air conditioner? Under what conditions? What other appliances? Details below."*According to the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), 60% of a typical summer electric bill is devoted to air conditioning, and that could jump to 75% based on the weather." In other words, the hotter it gets from climate change, the greater the significance of air conditioning to the total power bill.

Several examples of prototype smart-meter testing programs are cited in the full article we read in Electric Design (which is worth your time if this intrigues). Here are a few excerpts.

"ConEdison has 20,000 homes in the New York metro area participating in a demand-management program using the Sky-Tel paging infrastructure to remotely control air conditioning in homes equipped with Carrier’s ComfortChoice two-way communicating thermostats...ComEd in Chicago has one of the country’s most advanced metering programs, with 65,000 customers under remote air-conditioning control. Its Load Guard program and Web site,, let customers see real-time electric prices and determine the prices they want for cycling their air conditioning."

Platts has some fascinating market projections for smart meter growth. "The installation of smart meters by utilities is projected to grow rapidly in the coming years, increasing from the current penetration of 6% of households in Europe and North America to 41% in Europe and 89% in North America by 2012, research firm Datamonitor said Thursday.

Slower penetration of smart meters in Europe is tied to the more competitive retail market there, with concerns about utility investments in smart meters becoming stranded assets if customers switch providers, Datamonitor said. In North America, that is less of a concern and many large utilities have already embarked on replacing existing meters with smart meters."

The latter point is seminal. Inside 5 years, the US is projected to have double the capability of Europe for implementing smart metering on a wide scale. Think on what that means. The President of the US can have a photo op in front of the internets and talk about how US technology will save us from Climate Change.

Energy Star has given the US a short term leg up on Europe in standard metrics for indicating, to consumers, efficiency gains to be had through their technology purchases. Energy Star's next generation, then, just has to be making appliances "smart meter" capable.

Why, just the other day my washer was saying to my refrigerator, Hey Babe, aren't you running a bit overtime for such an old model? To which the frig, a GE with green attitude, replied: Bite my cubes, fossil gobbler. And back, and forth, until the network pinged the washer's IP# to ask if he was running and ohhh my god. No joke.

Via:: Electronic Design and:: Platts
Image credit:: Frost & Sullivan.

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