Is the smart grid really a stupid idea?
New smart meters being installed on customers' homes aren't making saving energy any easier. Instead residents are on the verge of revolution because they're getting overcharged.
Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 05:22 PM
Installing a new smart meter. (Photo: Pat Sullivan/AP)
Taking steps towards moving American households into the world of the smart grid is a good thing … right?
According to an article from the Sunday New York Times, maybe not. Preliminary test markets that have received smart electric meters have turned to revolt instead of rejoicing.
Customers in California are arguing that the meters are logging drastically more kilowatt hours than they believe are actually being used. In addition to the alleged inaccuracy of the meters, customers are less than thrilled to be shouldering the cost of the new high tech meters in the form of higher rates.
According to the story, “Power companies say the meters will allow utilities to vary the price charged to their customers by the hour to correspond to what those utilities are paying for energy in the wholesale market. This can help consumers save money, they say.”
But when will the money savings become noticeable? 1 year? 3 years? 10 years?
What if those savings come at the price of thousands of jobs?
The Times articles says, “The most obvious one is that utilities can eliminate their meter readers, along with an expenditure of 50 cents to a dollar to read each meter every month. And with smart meters, utilities are alerted immediately if a customer’s power is out.”
The smart meters have the potential to provide great benefit once all the kinks are worked out. One will be the ability to adjust, shut off, and turn on a home or business’s power remotely from a central hub. Another benefit for the consumers will be the ability to monitor power consumption and rates in real time.
Only time will tell if the American public is willing to wait for the savings while enduring the burden of working toward a smarter grid.