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Sunday, December 01, 2013

Consumers Outsmart Electric Utilities

Smart power consumers becoming 'worst nightmare' for electricity firms reports:
Utilities have consigned themselves to one-way relationships with ratepayers in their monopoly service areas. Their efforts to develop smart grids have largely failed to energise consumers despite a $US4.5 billion government stimulus package in 2009.
While utilities have installed millions of smart meters in homes, they haven't made use of the data to engage consumers the same way solar providers have, said Neil Strother, a smart-grid analyst at Navigant Consulting Inc. "Utilities are more focused on cutting their own costs than in helping consumers become more efficient," he said. "They aren't motivated to reduce demand."
The U.S. Department of Energy is more confident that its cash will start to shift the way utilities work with data, said Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary of electricity delivery and energy reliability. The money went to help fund 15.7 million smart meters as well as more than 1,000 sensors on the electric grid.
"Utilities will learn to use this information," Hoffman said in a Nov. 27 interview. "It enables demand management, better integrates clean energy and optimises the grid."
The solar systems, meanwhile, collect real-time data on hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the country that utilities could use to more efficiently and reliably manage their power grids. "We have an algorithm that tracks the clouds designed by a Ph.D. from Stanford," said Adrian De Luca, vice president in charge of sales at Hoboken, New Jersey-based Locus Energy, which monitors more than 25,000 solar systems in the U.S. and Canada.
Nat Kreamer, chief executive officer of Clean Power Finance Inc., said some utilities don't see the potential benefits of using smart meters to engage with consumers to improve their service or reduce their utility bills. "I asked an executive at one top 10 utility what he was hoping to get from smart meters, and he basically said just to eliminate the meter readers," Kraemer said. "They left a bunch of value on the table."