Emerging Tech

It takes more than brains to switch to smart grids


smart power gridEverywhere I look these days, I see green -- and I don't mean leaves on the trees and grass on freshly mowed lawns. The call is out, and it's incredibly loud. We have to do things differently than we're used to and comfortable with if we want to save the environment from further damage. Unfortunately, a lot of environmentally-friendly solutions come with a monetary cost, as well -- just take a walk through a health food store and compare the organic prices to what you're used to paying at your local grocery mart. How does this apply to tech? Take a look at this article from CNET Networks' News.com: "Will anyone pay for the 'smart' power grid?"

Here's the lowdown:

What's new:

Experts agree that the aging United States power grid needs substantial upgrades, which would allow utilities and consumers to better monitor and control power consumption.

Bottom line:

Although there is general agreement on the smart-grid vision, panelists at energy conference said utilities and regulators are resistant to investing in new technologies.

According to Eric Dresselhuys, the vice president of Silver Spring Networks, "It's all about money. We tend to take a very short view, but if we would charge each customer less than two dollars per month, we could do everything we're talking about with smart grids." Would you be willing to pay more money each month for smart grids? If not, what do you propose as an alternate solution? Join the discussion.

To learn more about smart grids, check out the Smart Grid News Web site.

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About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

13 comments
Absolutely
Absolutely

.

viruser
viruser

Hmmm :)

Absolutely
Absolutely

which I eventually did. The post titled 'misplaced' was a reply directly to the original article, which I only noticed after posting. So, I deleted the content, and changed the title to 'misplaced'. Now that I've taken the time to do so, and later to explain what I meant by 'misplaced', I'm wondering whether either the original edit, or this follow-up, were worth my while. Probably not, but it will rank low on the list of the most lamentable wastes of time in my life. :p

viruser
viruser

Pretty detailed explanation ;)

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

According to a recent News.com story, "Experts agree that the aging United States power grid needs substantial upgrades, which would allow utilities and consumers to better monitor and control power consumption. Although there is general agreement on the smart-grid vision, panelists at energy conference said utilities and regulators are resistant to investing in new technologies." Would you be willing to pay more money each month for smart grids? If not, what do you propose as an alternate solution?

Kiltie
Kiltie

but I have no idea what a smart grid is. I read and re-read the article and links, but all I can see is some kind of monitoring facility, which we already have in the UK, so maybe this is an American only thing? and..... why pay for this? it should be a free service, considering what I have managed to understand. Here in the UK, systems are already in place where you can use renewable energy sources to top up the National Grid, although it is an extreme example, it is possible to resupply more than you use, especially at particular times of the day. The more likely scenario is that you would use a renewable energy source to reduce the cost of your power bills. So shouldn't the power companies be paying you instead? In London, it is becoming the rage now to have a wind generator placed on your roof, like a status symbol ;-)

Absolutely
Absolutely

And since this is a financial question that will be decided politically, I suspect that is the sort of result we'll get.

btljooz
btljooz

Why? Just so Big Brother can put quotas on our electricity and ration it? no-No-NO-[b]NO[/b]-[b][u]NO[/u]!!!!!![/b]

Absolutely
Absolutely

I understand that you "maybe" interested in such a plan, but I'm not quite certain under what conditions? :^0

Jetskier77
Jetskier77

I doubt I would see any real benefit to it on a residential level, and in my area, we are already paying a premium for electricity compared to nationwide. In my opinion, the growth of cities and towns is already out of control, and its obvious they don't really plan for future water or electric needs down the road. If the electric infrastructure is getting to a point where upgrades are needed to support further growth and expansion, then they should factor that into the new growth areas. If the cost appears too hard to swallow, then maybe they will get smart and start to plan out the infrastructure a little more wisely instead of building at such a reckless pace.

Elmonk
Elmonk

Have you ever set your home trainer (ergometer) to 100 W and pedalled for 1 hour? OK, then you generated the equivalent of 100 Watt-hours; so pedal on for another 9 hours (not counting generator efficiency here); you end up with 1kWh, for which your utility will charge you no more than 20 cents. Still think electricity is too expensive?

bstockha
bstockha

If it can actually be done for $2.00 per month, yes, I would be willing to pay for that. The problem is that when these programs are brought to fruition, they tend to become a big profit item. A good example is all of the extra services that can be provided over your telephone line, but the telephone utilities nickel-and-dime us to death for each and every one of them.

carlson1
carlson1

The electrical grid owners should have a upgrade/maint. budget shouldn't they? Instead they rake the profits off and then complain about poor infrastructure so that the users are supposed to cough up extra to repair it. Maybe 'public services' should have a public interest motive instead of just a profit motive. It might take real government regulation to protect the public interest.

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