Smart Grid Kid

In Uncategorized on October 1, 2009 at 12:23 am

When we were kids, one of the most repeated admonitions about conservation had to do with dental hygiene.  Even today, I mentally remind myself to turn the taps off while I brush my teeth so I don’t waste water.  Another golden oldie was, “turn off the lights when you leave the room.”  My kids will no doubt hear these conservation tips many times over the years alongside updated ideas such as putting the computer to sleep when not in use.

One of the newest ways to conserve electricity may have landed in my lap in the form of smart metering technology.  Our local utility sent us a letter outlining a pilot program and inviting us to an informational meeting.  The idea is this: if consumers are given up to the minute data on how their decisions affect their electric bill, they will change their behavior for the better.

There will be several groups in the pilot program, some participants will be able to view the smart meter information; others will be left in the dark.  In addition, some households will be charged a higher rate during times of peak demand and a lower rate on nights and weekends while others will be charged a flat rate.  I am hoping to be in the group that has both access to the smart metering data and a higher daytime rate as I am confident that our household would be able to shave hundreds of dollars off of our annual utility bill simply by doing laundry and running our dehumidifier at night.

Many of the solutions to our large scale problems seem to be related to combining transparency in a system with accountability.  In order to drive down health care costs, we need to know how our lifestyle decisions affect our health and our pocketbook.  Environmental degradation will be curbed if we couple caps on emissions with a financial incentive to comply with regulations.  If knowledge is power, then perhaps knowledge about power is power squared.

Transparency and accountability, what a concept!

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