If you’ve heard the term ‘smart grid’ but aren’t sure what it means or how it pertains to you, a new website will help bring you up to speed on this new buzz phrase. The Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse (SGIC) website just launched a beta site that will help consumers learn more about what the smart grid is and help track projects across the country.
As the nation’s utility companies move towards a smart grid, disseminating this information to customers is important. A smart grid has many benefits because it will allow you, the customer, to better manage your utility use and that means a savings in utility costs. As electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids start to pop up in more households across the nation, the smart grid can help make sure that you charge your new vehicle at off peak times that save you money while ensuring that your vehicle is ready to go when you need it.
Smart grid projects across the nation have received an influx in funding thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The SGIC website tracks these Recovery Act-funded smart grid projects as well as other projects across the nation. If you’re interested in finding out what smart grid projects are underway in your area, you can look at the SGIC smart grid project map and see what is happening in your neck of the woods.
According to the map, there are two Recovery Act funded smart grid projects in progress here in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Salt River Project, a local utility company (of which I’m a customer), has received $56.9 million for their advanced metering infrastructure. This project will add an additional 540,000 meters, dynamic pricing, allow users to monitor energy use in real-time, and a bevy of other things that will reduce energy use and save money. Unfortunately I’m not one of those lucky customers that will receive this upgrade.
Although the Recovery Act has provided grant funds for many smart grid projects, not all of the programs listed on the SGIC website are funded through the federal government. Lake County Power in Grand Rapids, Minnesota began a 2-way Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program in 2008. Since Lake County Power is a cooperative, the AMI program created an added benefit for its members in that they no longer needed to read their own meters. The power company is now able to remotely read each customer’s meter. So Lake County Power customers aren’t just saving money and energy, they are saving time.
These are just two examples of the many smart grid projects listed on the SGIC website. Although the website is in its beta stage it is filled with information that will help provide you, the consumer, with more information about the smart grid and the types of programs that are underway across the nation.