Consumers Becoming More Aware of Smart Grid Issues, Offerings
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
Knowledge about smart meters and the smart grid has risen among U.S. consumers. The latest iteration of SGCC’s Consumer Pulse and Market Segmentation survey found that 72 percent of U.S. consumers have heard of smart meters and 70 percent have heard of the smart grid. The survey also showed which smart grid benefits are the most important to consumers and how willing consumers are to pay for benefits associated with the smart grid.
By now it is a cliché that the utility industry has been “slow to change”. It makes sense, of course: Monopoly providers selling a standard product have scant reason to innovate. And when there is little difference between products and no choice, customers aren't going to ask for more. But if you've been paying attention to the industry in the last several years, you see this is changing quickly.
ComEd is leveraging smart meter technology to offer small businesses a tool that helps them to better understand their energy use and find new ways to lower their bills. ComEd offers small businesses a free Business Energy Analyzer to better understand their energy use, and find new ways to lower electric bills.
Tucked away behind a research park at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is a glimpse into what many industry analysts say is the future of the power industry. There on campus, a microgrid of solar panels, wind power, natural-gas generators and energy storage work in concert to balance electricity supply and demand.
The U.S. energy storage industry just had a very good start to the year. With 234 megawatt-hours of capacity deployed in the first quarter of 2017, installations grew 945 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016. Growth in the utility-scale energy storage sector was more astonishing -- 5,040 percent. Still, there were only 4.3 megawatt-hours deployed in Q1 2016. But the statistic is impressive.
A report funded by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute and the American Wind Energy Association concluded the United States' power mix is changing, largely due to cheaper natural gas, flat demand and more efficient generation. And while the shift has forced a significant amount of coal-fired generation offline, the research concludes the transition to a cleaner mix of fuels is not harming the reliability of the power grid.
BGE has filed a five-year plan outlining how the utility will use its advanced metering infrastructure to optimize its distribution system, plan upgrades, avoid capital expenditures and better serve customers. The Maryland PSC authorized BGE to recover costs from AMI rollout in June of last year, after concluding there was "compelling evidence" the new meters would benefit customers.
Utilities must brace for a coming onslaught of competition, better anticipate their customers’ evolving wants and needs and learn how to speak directly and clearly to their customers, according to a panel of leading energy utility executives. Christopher Crane, Exelon president and CEO, said, “We have a big opportunity with technology changing. What we have to do much better as we are on this journey is communicate.”