A Great Primer on Smart Grids

My friend Tim Hurst has written a great piece titled “6 Things Getting in the Way of the Smart Grid, and Why We Shouldn’t Worry.” (link)

I thought about putting a link to Tim’s article in my Cool Links section, but then decided that we should be optimistic and hope some of the things Tim writes about come to pass in the near future. Tim brings up this key point:

A recent study found that 70 percent of Americans are not familiar with the phrase “smart grid.” … But does it really matter if people know what a smart grid is? Remember that research showing the majority of Americans were unfamiliar with the term ‘smart grid?’ That research also shows they are in favor of it regardless .

Given the public’s poor understanding of smart grids, Tim elegantly summarizes what they are:

In short, a smart grid is any electric grid where suppliers and consumers communicate via two-way technology to share information about electricity use and pricing. A smart grid will allow a network of homes, businesses and other electricity consumers to control their electricity consumption automatically via the price signals sent from utilities. When demand on the grid is higher, electricity would be priced at a higher rate, incentivizing users to hold off using a given appliance until rates were lower.

A smart grid is also one that can not only incorporate the input of new, distributed sources of electricity produced by solar, wind and geothermal installations of all shapes and sizes, but one that can also account for that electricity coming onto the grid, making that meter of yours finally spin backwards.

The idea of my meter spinning backwards is heavenly. Some day I would love to live in a house or apartment where I could be paid for producing extra energy via solar, wind, or even kinetic power.

But there are challenges to us moving toward smart grids, and if you are interested in learning more I recommend reading Tim’s article in entirety (link).

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