Consumers Speak Out on Smart Grids
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
The development of smart grids promises to give consumers more control over their energy bills, as well as encouraging small-scale, home-based renewable energy installations. But how do customers feel about them? Future Power Technology spoke to the US-based Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative to find out.
Xcel Energy plans to make the largest multi-state investment in wind power capacity in the country. The company has proposed 11 new wind farms in seven states, which would add a total of 3,380 MW of new wind generation to its system. The proposed plan increases the amount of wind energy in the company’s energy mix by 2021, with wind fueling nearly 35 percent of its total energy mix.
Ameren Illinois set aside $60,000 to help its low-income customers in Madison County to pay their bills that are in arrears. Stacey Young, supervisor of community relations for Ameren Illinois, said the $60,000 budget will be used to provide approximately 400 low-income consumers with $150 grants for them to clear their debts. Ameren Illinois is also deploying smart meters under efforts to help its gas and electric consumers improve management of their energy usage to reduce their energy bills.
Just a couple of years ago, Matt Ketschke's job function didn't exist. Ketschke is vice president of distributed resource integration for Consolidated Edison, located in New York, the state widely viewed as the most aggressive in reshaping the utility business model. But in a sign of just how quickly the evolution is occurring, Ketschke's position didn't exist until recently, even in a state with trailblazer status.
The top five issues facing utilities this year are physical and cyber security, distributed energy policy, rate design reform, aging grid infrastructure and the reliable integration of renewables and distributed energy resources, according to the results of a survey of professionals in the utility industry. The survey found that 72 percent of respondents see physical and cyber security as either “important” or “very important” today.
FPL is making up for lost time, and now expects to have 2.1 GW of new solar capacity installed on its system within the next seven years. FPL said it has also reached a deal to close down a coal-fired plant in the state. FPL, which currently operates 335 MW of solar energy, recently announced 1,500 MW of new solar development in addition to 600 MW already under development at eight sites.
An order released last month from New York regulators aims at perfecting a mechanism to reward the state’s utilities for the accelerated interconnection of distributed energy resources. If regulators and stakeholders can come to a consensus, it could mark a big step forward in evolving how utilities make money in the Empire State.
The transformation of the country’s electric grid — into a smart grid dotted with solar panels, batteries, microgrids and more — holds nearly infinite potential to change our daily lives, our cities and our environment. That was the overarching theme delivered by experts from industry, government and nonprofit groups at the national Grid Modernization Forum in Chicago this week. But unlocking all this potential won’t be easy.