I know I have said it at least a hundred times, but every time I discuss smart meters, I feel the need to repeat it. The smart grid is not just about smart meters. But today’s focus is on smart meters. A recent news story about a family’s smart meter experience motivated me to write this post. It serves as a reminder about the positive attributes of smart meters.
As most utilities already know, smart meters enable multi-directional power and information flows between the utility, the grid and the customer. This multi-level communication gives the utility the ability to quickly identify outages and resolve other services problems. For example, this 50 second video is a news story about how the smart meter helped save a customer’s home.
Hard to believe that prior to smart grid technology, in most cases a utility did not know there was a problem with a customer’s service until the customer called. Now utilities are addressing service issues proactively or before a problem cascades, improving reliability. Not meant to be an exhaustive list, a few other smart meter benefits often include:
- More data. Customers will have the ability to go online to see a detailed history of their energy usage and costs. Depending on the utility, they may be able to view hourly electric consumption and then compare their usage to last week, last month or even last year. This is valuable information that can help you make informed energy choices.
- The utility’s operations will become more efficient, including allowing customers to start or switch electric service quickly.
- Meters will be read remotely. By eliminating the need for a meter reader to visit a home every month, customer privacy is increased and emissions are reduced.
- Job creation. While the meter reader job will be eliminated, may other jobs will be created to support the new infrastructure. This includes jobs related to the labor required to manufacture, install and maintain the smart meters; the construction and maintenance of communications infrastructure; and the creation of computer hardware and software. Again, this leads to potential energy conservation and reduction of emissions.