ComEd Credits Smart Grid for Improved Reliability
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
Since 2012, ComEd has seen the reliability of its system improve by 60 percent, and company representatives are crediting major investments in smart grid technologies for the gain. On average, the company noted this uptick in reliability has led to an average 45 percent fewer outages endured by customers. Chicago saw the biggest benefit from this, reaching a nearly 60 percent reduction since 2012. In all, the changes have helped avoid more than 11 million outages and saved, by their estimations, around $2.1 billion for the affected society.
While electricity providers have made great strides in recent years to become more customer-centric in their product offerings, operations and strategies, this new consumer-focused outlook hasn’t yet reached all consumers. According to a consumer survey by SECC, about 40 percent of U.S. residential energy customers still only engage periodically with their electricity providers or in energy-efficient actions.
With the right preparation, home energy devices could become a major asset for utilities in the coming years. Today, utilities regularly call on smart thermostats to reduce demand on the grid and save money for ratepayers. But that system is pretty limited compared to the possibilities coming into view as customers buy connected smart-home devices and hook up solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles chargers.
Duke Energy said recently that it plans to build on the success of its solar power programs in 2018 to deliver solar power to more North Carolina and South Carolina customers in 2019. Duke’s $62 million solar rebate program for residential, commercial and nonprofit customers in North Carolina hit capacity limits for residential and nonresidential customers and helped 1,700 North Carolina customers switch to solar last year, the company said.
Momentum is slowly building behind new rate designs that focus on customer costs and meeting system needs, but some say too slowly. Pilot programs have shown smartly designed residential time-of-use (TOU) and other time varying rate structures can effectively shift power consumption away from peak demand and drive significant savings for both customers and utilities.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc. are taking early steps to expand into the electricity business, as home-energy automation emerges as a rich new source of customer data. The technology giants aren’t interested in selling megawatts — at least not for now.
Corporations around the world signed deals for 13.4 GW of clean energy last year through power purchase agreements (PPAs), more than doubling 2017's record amount of 6.1 GW, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report released Monday. In the United States, companies tripled the amount of clean energy secured in 2018, signing PPAs for 8.5 GW.
A recent Black & Veatch report has determined utilities are poised to undergo their most visible transformation in more than a century. Citing the manner in which utilities are faced with the evolution of generation, transmission and distribution technology, the utility infrastructure firm’s “2019 Strategic Directions: Smart Utilities Report” revealed utility business models are changing to accommodate the growing volume of renewable energy coming onto the grid.