I have been having conversations regarding how advanced information technology will eventually be the key component of next generation energy management solutions. Smart meters, the smart grid, the intelligent home, distributed generation and the myriad sustainable energy solutions will all be part of active demand management. So, it was nice to see this story on the smart grid on MarketWatch recently.
The smart grid is the modern electricity network, where sensors and computers will aid in providing constant information on electricity consumption. Some features include signaling to consumers real-time pricing of electricity and predicting places where demand surges.In order to implement a smart grid, the first step is a smart meter. A smart meter will replace your current electric meter. The new meter is able to send back information on your electricity usage to the utility. Through digital reading, utilities will be able to gauge how much power you are using throughout the day and introduce different rates for different times.The goal will be to reduce electricity usage during peak times, allowing for energy conservation.Already some utilities have begun to install smart meters. The states of California and Texas have seen the most development. Southern California Edison plans to replace 5.3 million standard meters by 2012. Another California utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, began installing smart meters in 2006 and plans to put in 6 million meters by the end of 2011. In Texas, Austin Energy is another utility that has initiated a smart meter program.