the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Smart Grid

Posted by Jeff Id on August 27, 2010

More leftist insanity today. I’m sorry but that’s what the world does so thats what we get. The NYT which cannot go out of business fast enough at this point, is advertising THE BENEFITS of VOULUNTARY brownouts.

To Cut Demand for Electricity, Some Customers Agree to Unplug

Electricity use is up sharply this summer, but in a windowless room near Albany that is the nerve center of New York State’s grid, controllers have noticed that something else is not rising: peak load.

How about that fantastic thing.

“You get called a day ahead, and all hell breaks loose when they call,” said Leo Cutone of Cutone & Company Consultants, which recruits buildings and institutions to participate. Common steps are adjusting air-conditioning thermostats, turning off some elevators, switching off lobby lights or starting up emergency generators.

Less elevators, emergency generators!! come on, it’s insane.

“If it’s nice and sunny enough, then the lobby is bright enough without artificial lighting,” said Lewis Kwit of Energy Investment Systems, a company that serves as a “demand response service provider.”

Mr. Kwit has lined up about 10 apartment buildings where superintendents will close the laundry room and post signs asking tenants to delay using their dishwashers until the early morning. “You can save 20 to 30 percent,” he said.

Can’t do laundry or dishes!! Life is too short, I like to be comfortable and clean.  All this to make money for the power companies, which are friggin’ monopolies anyway.  We don’t get to choose price or provider but now we must suffer less power because they are instructed to maximize profit by providing too little electricity.

NOT SANE IDIOTS!!  Not even close.

Edison to the customer: Can you afford the kWh

Unwitting customer: um yes

Edison: well we make more money by limiting peak supply so tough apples.

Companies that recruit buildings or property owners to participate are paid by the New York Independent System Operator or by the local utility. The prices have been running $12 to $13 per kilowatt of reduction.

Alfonse Amore, the senior vice president at Trinity Real Estate, a property management company, said it enrolled 13 office buildings in the program this summer. Building personnel go from door to door asking tenants to turn off nonessential equipment.

I don’t have any “non-essential” equipment running in my home or business.  Who the heck does?!  Al Gore?!

And exactly the point I made at Bart Verheggens blog.

For energy companies, demand-side management may help them avoid building power plants that would be needed only a few hours a year or transmission and distribution lines that would seldom be used to capacity. Trimming the peak load by a few percentage points means getting more use out of existing equipment.

It’s about money, for the big company with the lobbiest. No choice for the tenants but  to move.  They are heading into wide spread brownouts and the ignorant liberal voters think they want it.

In a place like New York, where getting permission to build a plant or power line is extremely difficult, energy experts say the strategy is especially valuable. And its effects are obvious at Consolidated Edison, said Joseph Oates, vice president of energy management.

I can’t wait to see how this turns out, oh yeah, I’ve been to China.

h/t reader and brownout supporter Sidd  of  Bart’s otherwise fine blog My View linked on the right.


72 Responses to “Smart Grid”

  1. kim said

    Brilliant, peak load only to those who can afford it. Distributed power generation-WikiPower!
    =========================

  2. Brian H said

    Conservation is nice. Surplus is better.

  3. Margaret said

    We have been on “ripple control” for years – where you voluntarily agree to have your hot water tank turned off by your supplier for short periods to reduce the peak. I can verify that it is not even noticeable because no-one uses so much hot water that the temperature in the tank is reduced — even if you run bath. So what’s the beef ??? … it would be a completely different matter if you had no choice. But if I choose to go on a cheaper rate for my electricity on these conditions, why on earth should you be compelling me to take the expensive rate?

  4. Sam said

    Notice this quote in the story:

    There are several small reasons that consumption grows while peak load does not. One is weather patterns, the ratio of very hot days, which drive consumption, to extremely hot days, which drive peak. But another is man-made: “demand-side management,” under which customers agree to unplug when controllers need them to.

    The implication is that weather patterns are not man-made. This is true, but it is nice to hear the NYT admit it.

  5. John F. Pittman said

    #3 Margaret, I think you have made Jeff’s point. He was speaking of demand side management by the electric company. If he is wrong, why do you pay a cheaper rate? Where does that money come from and why? That is his point. It is also trivial that if nobody used energy, no one would pay for it. Energy is being used, by you, per your statement. The question is sustainability. Is demand side control sustainable? Only in a static envelope. Is there a study that indicates the world will use less quads? I have not seen it. I would estimate that such a scenario would make “draconian” seem to be a bit of understatement.

  6. Jeff Id said

    #3, Apparently you didn’t read carefully enough. You are very welcome to shut off your lights, nobody cares.

    “Mr. Kwit has lined up about 10 apartment buildings where superintendents will close the laundry room”

    The residents are given an inconvenience for the profit of the electric companies and the liberals who won’t allow power plants to be built. The outcome of this nonsense is predictable.

  7. “We don’t get to choose price or provider but now we must suffer less power”
    Sorry, I don’t get this post at all. It seems very unlibertarian. Must? I thought the point of the scheme is that it’s voluntary. Flexibility with power demand saves the company money. It means less power stations, less fuel used – all community benefits. The company offers to share the gains with the customer if they agree to be flexible. What’s wrong with that? With big users, it’s been happening for years.

    “Who the heck does?!”
    People who sign up to the scheme. Why mandate that they can’t gain by being more flexible, just because you don’t think you can.

  8. Jeff Id said

    The residents of the complexes didn’t sign up, and they plan to put this on homes across the country in time.

  9. #8
    Jeff, that’s an issue between residents and management. They should be benefitting from the lower costs – if not, they should do something about it. I’ve just had such a meter installed at home, but it doesn’t force me to do anything. I can choose to get compliant appliances and operate off-peak if I want. The company sends controlling signals, but I can ignore them.

  10. DeWitt Payne said

    This is nothing compared to the scheme like in California where the the rest of the rate and tax payers finance the electricity costs of people who can afford to install tax subsidized solar panels. The power company buys power they don’t need at the retail price by crediting the home owner 1 kilowatt hour of consumption when the sun isn’t shining for every 1 kilowatt hour of excess power generated by the solar panels. As a result, the investment probably will pay for itself, but it’s really an income transfer from poor to rich.

  11. Eric Anderson said

    DeWitt at #10, that is possibly correct, but just a couple of clarifications might be in order (I’m not sure where you live, but at least in the PG&E area the following is true): PG&E always offers their peak/off-peak rate structure to homeowners, meaning that anyone can sign up at any time. As you point out, under that rate structure you pay more during peak hours (typically 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. during the late spring, summer, and early fall) and less during off-peak. Nothing wrong with the utility offering that rate structure voluntarily to those who want it instead of the flat rate.

    Now from a practical standpoint, very few people sign up for the peak/off-peak rate structure because the peak rate is so much higher than the flat rate, and the non-peak rate is not that much lower than the flat rate. So you’d have to use a *lot* less electricity during the peak rate, and a *lot* more during the non-peak rate to make it economical. Solar panels take advantage of the situation by generating a decent percentage of their electricity during peak rate hours. Again, nothing wrong with someone signing up for the rate structure and then using technology to get a more advantageous approach to that rate structure (just like the guy who sets his AC or his jacuzzi to come on only during non-peak hours, etc.).

    It sounds like your concern is that the utility is required by law to give credit to the homeowner for extra electricity generated beyond that used. Given that the solar panels are generating a meaningful percentage of their electricity during peak hours, and given that the peak rates are so much higher than the non-peak rates, the homeowner does gain an advantage (assuming they are careful to not use high-use appliances during peak hours — it doesn’t take a whole lot to shoot through the watts being generated by the solar panels, even during peak production). The differential between peak/non-peak production and usage isn’t a panacea for the homeowner, but it can mean a savings of 20-25% of the total annual Kwh needed, meaning that if you install a system that produces about 75-80% of your annual usage (and you are careful with your usage during peak hours), you should be able to cover 100% of your bill for the year (well, kind of — you still have the obligatory monthly access fee/tax the utility charges everyone).

    So the question is whether this means that other ratepayers and taxpayers are subsidizing the homeowner who installed panels (let’s set aside for a moment the CA solar rebate and the federal tax credit, which I think are clearly subsidies paid for by all taxpayers). In terms of the utility rates themselves, it is not clear to me that any taxpayer is affected in any meaningful way. PG&E has to procure power to cover its load during peak hours. If PG&E buys that load from a thousand individual homeowners, rather than from a single provider, does that have any meaningful impact on taxpayers? I don’t think so. If PG&E could have gotten a better deal from a single provider, then perhaps it has an impact on PG&E stockholders, but I don’t think the taxpayer is affected. Also, remember that the discount to the homeowner is an offset, not an actual purchase, so it is not as though PG&E is forced to cut a check to the homeowner for the power. Instead, it can be viewed as PG&E giving the customer a 20-25% discount on their annual bill in exchange for the customer agreeing to sign up for the peak/non-peak rate schedule, thereby lessening PG&E’s peak load. There is movement in the works to require the utilities to actually cut a check at the end of the year to the customer for power produced beyond the annual usage, but that is not how it has functioned until now.

    Finally, are the other ratepayers affected? I think one can make a decent case that they are indirectly affected by PG&E giving someone a 20-25% discount on their bill — after all the difference has to be made up somewhere (I suppose the same could be said about the subsidized electricity offered to low-income households). However, I am not completely sure that that is even the case. I don’t personally know enough about CA energy regulations to know if PG&E is able to raise the flat rates to cover the discount to the peak/non-peak users; there are myriad restrictions and hoops the utilities have to jump through to change their rates — it’s not like a widget manufacturer that can just change its price any day it feels like it. Ultimately, I suspect a fair amount of the pain caused by the discount is borne by PG&E stockholders in lower profits (not that they are suffering, mind you) — as a cost of doing business in the fair State of California. Incidentally, PG&E participate in all manner of other credits to consumers, which could be viewed in a similar light: rebates on certain appliances, up-front subsidizing of CFL’s, etc.

    In any event, it is a complex issue. I think the larger gripe can reasonably come from taxpayers for the CA solar rebate and the federal tax credit than it can from the ratepayers for someone else having chosen a voluntary rate schedule and thereby getting a discount on their annual bill. In that case, we can question whether it is a good use of funds to encourage homeowners to install solar panels. Perhaps no, but, hey, it might be a better use of tax funds than a lot of other things. At least with the solar panels the program is available, if not to everyone, then, if one is willing to put up some cash and jump through some hoops, at least to a wide swath of the population — after all, how much of those bank/Wall Street/automaker bailout billions are you and I eligible for? :)

  12. sod said

    sorry Jeff, but how you framed this paragraph, is absurd:

    For energy companies, demand-side management may help them avoid building power plants that would be needed only a few hours a year or transmission and distribution lines that would seldom be used to capacity. Trimming the peak load by a few percentage points means getting more use out of existing equipment.

    reducing peak hour demand is a good thing. many of us simply switch stuff on, because we don t know that it is not a good moment for the grid.

    the smart grid will fix this, without us even noticing. everything else is a conspiracy theory.

  13. Bart said

    On real smart grid solutions (e.g. http://www.powermatcher.net/), nobody is forced to (not) do anything.

    Jeff wants his washing machine to run when he turns it on (as he wrote on my blog discussing energy options). Perhaps others prefer it go on when electricity prices are lowest (as long as it’s done before 7 a.m.). Technology such as the Powermatcher makes both options possible. What’s there to complain?

    Nobody forces anyone to turn off their appliance. Rather, the price of electricity fluctuates according to demand, and users can set their requirements for appliance usage, eg immediately or at the cheapest time (within a desired or needed timeframe). Car batteries could serve as back-up storage, but also only as to the owner’s directions. The owner remains the sole boss of their electricity usage.

  14. John F. Pittman said

    Most have pointed out the good voluntary part. The question is: is that what is proposed for the future? The accounts I have read are more along the line of SOD’s claim of a smart grid, involuntary. I would frame it different, I would say that the advocates assume (dream) one will not notice, but reality may be different, per individual user. In which case, the involuntary nature may be objectionable to many.

    If it is set up well, I think it would be mostly transparent. However, the water bills of Colorado where the water rights were sold to California should not be forgotten. There were cases where a homeowner had a toilet that started laking badly while they were away on vacation. Becuase they went into penalty water, the family owed about $4000. They fought and lost, because that is what the contract stated. It about bankrupted the family. They decidd to move to a different water district. That option may not be available for the smart grid.

    If penalty electricity becomes the norm, I know I will oppose the smart grid. We have squirrels in my region, and they chew electric lines of all things, sometimes setting up a costly, at regular rates, ground. The problem can be next to impossible for the homeowner to find, and is dangerous for fire potential as well. I would not wish to be on a grid with penalty. Our local PETA, etc, have made sure if you kill the little destructors, you face jail time and fines.

    The provisions of the smart grid will be the contract that the users sign, or the regulators approve, regardless of what we may think it should be. If it is not an option to opt out, it may be undesirable indeed.

  15. Jeff Id said

    Sod,

    I don’t switch things on which I don’t want on, that is in fact the purpose of the switch.

    In the US, utility companies are a regulated monopoly, they never go out of business because they are protected. An electrician (technician not an engineer) can make 160,000 USD/yr with a full pension. If they lose money the govt. raises the rates. In exchange for this cushy status, I demand that my light switch work when I use it.

    Now I know people are saying it’s voluntary but when the building shuts down the laundry, it is not. When it is implemented the power company will have the remote option to shut off homes in favor of business at their whim, in China, this is standard practice – shutting off non-preferred business in favor of others. If they implement peak load pricing that is very severe, it will be nothing but a profit center for the over compensated utilities.

    The difference is that China has seen this lifestyle and is smart enough to build more power plants.

  16. Jeff Id said

    Were it truly voluntary, I wouldn’t have a problem. That’s what the switch is for.

  17. j ferguson said

    I thought the benefits of peak-load shedding were so obvious anyone could understand. Why tie up capital on occasionally used generation capacity? I must have really missed the point on this post. I would have thought that this was capitalism at its very best.

  18. sod said

    I don’t switch things on which I don’t want on, that is in fact the purpose of the switch.

    many people will switch on the washing machine (or a dish washer) in the morning, simply because they are leaving the house. this adds extra demand to the morning peak, and is completely unnecessary, because we don t need the things cleaned for a couple of hours.

    ps: if you have problems with the big energy companies, you should welcome alternative energy. it will automatically produce many small companies in the business. companies who simply can t afford to run a nuclear power plant.

  19. KevinUK said

    #9 Nick,

    “I’ve just had such a meter installed at home, but it doesn’t force me to do anything”

    You just don’t get it do you just like you don’t get that the hockey stick has been comprehensively discredited and so continue to be an apologists for Michael Mann.

    In the UK courtesy of our nonesense of a Climate Change Act we won’t have a choice in the matter. By late 2020 we will all have smart meters whether we like them or not.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8389880.stm

    http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/energy-and-environment/smart-meters-explained/smart-meter-faqs/index.jsp

    We are being told that the electricity supply companies will pay (and note the estimated costs of th e roll-out are already escalating) for them but we all know that is BS. We’ll be paying for them courtesy of increases to our already exhorbitent electricity bills.

    Now wake up Nick and smell the roses as some f us in the UK have already done! This is just the start and will be a prelude to the real electricity rationing that we will be experiencing in the UK in about 5 years time when we are forced to shutdown pretty much all of our existing coal-fired power plants and replace them with intermittent wind farms in a vain attempt to meet our ridiculous self-imposed GHG emissions reduction targets.

    Now as a ‘true believer’ in the efficacy of smart meters Nick, perhaps you’d like to apply for a job in the UK with our energy regulator OFGEM.

    http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/job/1019942/smart-metering-design-regulatory-development-manager/

    I’m sure you’ll sail through the interview especially when you enthrall them with your new R programming skills and intimate knowledge of the CET.

  20. Jeff Id said

    Partially reposted from Bart’s thread:

    You guys missed the point, if it’s voluntary it’s fine, if not it’s not.

    Many have conveniently missed the quote —-

    “2. Ability to rapidly redistribute loads by switching off less demanding utilisers.”

    The smart meter, allows utilities to shut the home completely off during peak power in favor of businesses. This is where the real savings (for the utilities not the consumer) are, and we would all have to be pretty naive to think it won’t be used this way.

    When you’re 80, in the dead heat of summer and the utility doesn’t have the capacity to keep you going because they weren’t allowed (and because of smart meters didn’t need) to develop it, they aren’t going to cut off the business, they are going to cut your home – think about it. You will be sitting there indoors in 100 degree heat with no air conditioning. Not me guys, I want a better life.

    To sum up:
    Voluntary good – but naive and not likely.
    Involuntary bad – very very likely.

    I really find it naive that people are suggesting to give a switch to ‘big energy’ such that they can keep their facilities as close to peak load as possible (maximum profit) and they have the controls. – Yet you think it will be voluntary, because the smart meter guy told you it was.

    And right at the moment when everyone really needs that AC, it won’t operate, cause the power generation system won’t be designed to keep up. That’s the point, you are being handed brownouts in the guise of a smart meter, in lieu of the necessary new power plant. Your per-capita generation capacity will be hidden from you as the situation worsens.

    How is that possibly a good idea?

  21. KevinUK said

    #9 Nick and all those who don’t know what power rationing feels like.

    As a child growing up in the 70′s I well remeber what it felt like to have youlights switched off and to have to sit and shiver while trying to do homework in a candle lit room. I NEVER want my kids or grandchild to ever have to experience that feeling.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-Day_Week

    I’m quite proud to say that I never forgot that experience and later on in life had the opportunity later to help ensure that never again would the majority of the UK’s population have to suffer due to the control freak actions of the few (in the case of the 3-day week the control freaks were the NUM). My personal contribution was to take part in the design, development and commissioning of nuclear power plants in the UK which today help ensure that for now at least the lights still turn on when you flick that switch on the wall. Sadly and rather depressingly it looks like the impact my contribution made will only be short lived.

  22. j ferguson said

    The utility controlled switches at our last house in Coconut Grove, FL were on the water heater (calrod), the swimming pool pump and the A/C. They gave us a significant rate drop for letting them install these and the deal was that they would cycle us on and off distributing the outage of these three devices among the population so equipped. We never used the A/C in the 7 years we lived there – lot of trees, and concrete tile roof and both gone during the day.

    They had lights on the switches so I could see what was going on, but never noticed the cut-outs.

    Brother has a similar arrangement at his home on Canadian border in Northern Minnesota. His heating is electric and load shedding could occur when it is seriously cold up there. He heats by circulating hot water and his solution (so to speak) was to bury a large well-insulated tank in the ground to store heat during the outages. He also has a deal with them to heat the water at their lower demand times. The calrods are on a utility controlled switch but the circulation pumps and other things are not. He gets a significant rate cut for having this set-up and I think the utility helped pay for the tank and its installation.

    He also has a genset to run the whole setup just in case.

    I know there’s something nasty about this sort of thing being forced on you, especially if you weren’t part of the discussion. On the other hand, excess facilities, as they call them, can be a real burden on rates.

    So the point of my rambling that at least in FPL territory, you get cycles during peaks not shut down.

  23. Retired Engineer said

    “Companies that recruit buildings or property owners to participate are paid by the New York Independent System Operator or by the local utility. The prices have been running $12 to $13 per kilowatt of reduction.”

    Huh? Over what time frame? Cut consumption by one kw and get $13. For a day, week, year? That makes no sense at all.

    We got sort of “smart” meters installed last year, they don’t turn things off, just send consumption data wirelessly for billing. No more meter readers. Our utility bills went up 25%. Without a rate increase. With no way to verify anything. “Smart” is not always about saving energy. Of course, the utiliy company says it didn’t happen, we just increased consumption. My light bulbs got 25% brighter overnight…

  24. sod said

    i would have expected this to be easily understood by the technically audience that is supposed to frequent this blog.

    let us do a simple example. supply is generated by coal power plants, which can t follow demand at all. supply curve will be a flat straight line.

    demand will be a curve not dissimilar to a day temperature curve, with a couple of high spikes.

    number of coal plants needed is defined by the highest spike in the demand curve. (actually the highest spike over a couple of years)

    there are two solutions to this waste of resources: supply that can follow demand (mostly water power) or attempts to flaten those spikes.

    a smart grid will cut some of those spikes by a price scheme, without us actually noticing anything. (like turning climate systems up by a couple of degrees in a range defined by the owner of the system, or switching of half of the bulbs in floors)

    on the other hand, you can follow Jeff and believe in a conspiracy theory, in which power companies switch of life support systems in hospitals to support a factory in china…

  25. sod said

    Huh? Over what time frame? Cut consumption by one kw and get $13. For a day, week, year? That makes no sense at all.

    it makes massive sense. asking a company that has a high demand to reduce their load during peak time might save a coal plant from running all day long!

  26. Suibhne said

    Demand management has to be watched pretty carefully or it can simply be an excuse to increase prices.
    You don’t need to be a conspiracy believer to watch CEO and shareholder delight as higher prices are repackaged as being “socially responsible”.
    Take London Transport System as an example.
    Prices at the “rush hour” peak times have been higher for a number of years.
    However the train companies are now extending the period of peak time well into early afternoon.
    Social responsibility would demand regulation that the average price per day for KWHr or mile travelled should be held constant.

  27. Eric Anderson said

    Sod at #25:

    I think Retired Engineer’s point is that $13/Kw doesn’t make mathematical sense, not that it doesn’t make sense as an incentive to reduce peak load. In other words, what do they mean by $13/Kw? If they mean $13/KwH, that is insane — electric rates are typically a few cents per KwH. If they mean a Kw aqveraged over some other timeframe, they don’t say. Just wondering what the $13 covers, that’s all . . .

  28. sod said

    i don t know how they arrive at the $13 number, but here is a link to one of the programs:

    http://en.openei.org/wiki/NYSERDA_-_Peak_Load_Reduction_Program_%28New_York%29

    *The short-term demand reduction portion of the program awards incentives for the installation of equipment that allows a facility to curtail their demand on short notice in response to a notification from the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) of a constrained energy grid or from the Load Serving Entity (LSE) when a localized constraint occurs. Eligible equipment and project-related costs include but are not limited to controls for HVAC equipment, lighting, process loads, motors and motor drives, metering equipment, equipment installation, engineering services, and the development of a curtailment plan. Participants within the Con Edison service area can receive the lesser of 65% of project costs or $200 per kilowatt of summer peak load curtailment; and participants outside the Con Edison service area can receive either 65% of project costs or $50 per kilowatt.

  29. Jeff Id said

    #24, It’s slightly more complicated than the first order effects. Of course those of a certain political mind continually miss that. What happens if you give the poorest people in society free money (welfare style) such that they can live reasonably – do they become happier and more productive or do they expand in number draining resources. There is a bit of legacy on this issue.

    Think about what wide scale implementation would do to the existing generation capacity. The utilities just need to keep pushing back more and more toward a fixed grid load and guaranteed profitability. Of course I won’t suffer with the rest because I’ll buy my own CO2 emitting generator (as is recommended in the quoted article), but the poor will just have to suffer again – at the hands of those who would help them.

    It’s a really bad idea because people aren’t understanding the incentives of the parties involved. Wherever there is incentive, there will be pressure. If it goes bad to the extent that i’m right, the consumer in this case has very little power to correct it.

  30. PhilJourdan said

    Mandatory power termination is only a matter of time. Look at the rights and privileges we have lost in the last 20, 30 or even 40 years? Each one taken a little at a time.

    The ruling class does nothing without understanding the ends they want to achieve. The meters today are of course all voluntary, and hey! They are free! just like the recycling bins that they gave you (that they now monitor and fine you if you do not use).

    One of the most relevant fables is that of the Fox and Gingerbreadman. Yet so few remember it, and fewer even still understand it.

  31. sod said

    It’s a really bad idea because people aren’t understanding the incentives of the parties involved. Wherever there is incentive, there will be pressure. If it goes bad to the extent that i’m right, the consumer in this case has very little power to correct it.

    i don t get this. i think all of us live in countries, in which you can change the company that supplies your electricity by writing a simple letter.

    Mandatory power termination is only a matter of time. Look at the rights and privileges we have lost in the last 20, 30 or even 40 years? Each one taken a little at a time.

    The ruling class does nothing without understanding the ends they want to achieve. The meters today are of course all voluntary, and hey! They are free! just like the recycling bins that they gave you (that they now monitor and fine you if you do not use).

    so how many “bin-terminations” have happened so far?

  32. Jeff Id said

    #30, Nope, in the US, you get what you get in most/many areas.

    Mandatory termination will occur if we pursue the smart grid. Ask yourselves, does it make more sense for the individual to invest in low cost emergency generation or for power companies to be prepared for peak power?

    Which emits more? Which costs more?

  33. j ferguson said

    Sod,
    I haven’t lived on land for 7 years but last time I did, in the US, we got to do business with the local utility – the only source. That used to be typical in the US, maybe still is.

    So it’s been a while but I had nothing but good experience having some of our loads on the utility’s automatic load shedding system. I can’t understand the threat that Jeff ID and some of the others here are seeing.

    The liability of purposely cutting someone off could be tremendous.

    As far back as my university days in the 60s, the school’s power plant would fire up when Union Electric (Saint Louis) needed the help.

  34. harrywr2 said

    I’m going to disagree with Jeff on this one.

    In the US we have 1,000,000 Megawatts of generating capacity, the average consumption is 500,000 megawatts.
    That means on average 50% of the power plants in the US are idle.
    Trillions of dollars worth of power plants, doing nothing at least half the time.

    Airlines,hotels,golf courses, restaurants, movie theaters all practice ‘demand’ management.

  35. Jeff Id said

    harrywr2

    Try it the other way, shut your main off on the hottest day in August.

  36. [...] Smart Grid « the Air Vent Common steps are adjusting air-conditioning thermostats, turning off some elevators, switching off lobby lights or starting up emergency generators. Less elevators, emergency generators!! come on, it’s insane. … emergency generators – Google Blog Search [...]

  37. j ferguson said

    #31 Jeff ID, it seems to me that this is a discussion which might respond to numbers. But I don’t know how to put them together.

    What do we mean by peak load for example. When the weather moves the load up towards system capacity, how much of that load is really essential – right then? Is it vital that people be able to dry their clothes with the electric drier, run the air-conditioner full blast and make hot-water simultaneously? Are all the industrial loads essential, or can some be rescheduled off-peak? The utilities invest a lot of time trying to control their capital commitments to reduce the amount of capacity that sits there most of the year waiting for a really hot day. Part of the way they do this is through cutting deals with users who have sheddable or scheduleable loads to reduce the demand when it’s going into domestic heating or cooling.

    It’s true that there should be some redundancy in the system, call it supply side diversity. I agree that having everyone set up their own stand-by gensets is crazy and would not be “eco-friendly” a term I hate the idea of.

    We run our boat 300 days/year on a 3.8kw diesel genset. The connected load is over 9kw, but by not trying to charge batteries, air condition, and heat water at the same time it works and works well. If I had bought the 12kw unit that I was told I needed, most of the capacity would be wasted most of the time.

    I don’t see why it isn’t a good thing for the utilities to ask us to rationalize our loads.

  38. Bart said

    Jeff,

    I hate it when people tell me what (not) to do, so we have something in common there.

    You pick at a home grown community style experiment that clearly doesn’t appeal to you, and wouldn’t to the majority of people. But the future of smart grids is very different than a caretaker shutting the door to the laundry facilities. It’s based on balancing supply and demand where the price is a proxy for the relationship between them. If at any time the demand exceeds the momentary supply, the price will go up, and that will drive the demand down (at least for those who don’t care if their laundry is done immediately – at high electricity costs) or a few hours later – probably at lower electricity costs).

    Without picking on the home grown locked laundry room variety, which is all too easy to ridicule, what’s there to complain about really smart grids?

    Margaret (comment nr 3) seemed to understood that concept, without being distracted by the locked laundry room story.

  39. harry said

    @J Ferguson,

    You are completely right with your reasoning. You have a boat, an isolated envirnment, and you can deicde how to use the energy from your generator. Depending on your priorities, you select.

    In a smart grid, capacity is also limited. But not to you personally. To the node you are on. Which means that you have to share your part of the cake with all other people on that node, regardless of what you think you have for a contract with the supplier. Limited transport capacity is the factor overruling your needs.

    Now envision the following scenario: It is 100F outside, your child is having a fever and you want to switch on the AC. Nothing happens, because it has been browned out through the net.

    What will you do?

  40. sod said

    Now envision the following scenario: It is 100F outside, your child is having a fever and you want to switch on the AC. Nothing happens, because it has been browned out through the net.

    What will you do?

    this scenario will not happen.

    again: typically this will just be a price difference in a smart grid. it wont switch anything off, but simply change you a few extra cents.

    and typically you will set the rules: you did agree to have them switch something of. and/or you can override it by pushing a different button. typically we are not talking about stuff being switched of. instead it might regulate the temperature up by 2°C…

    final solution would be to plug in a normal ventilator.

  41. harry said

    @Sod,

    You did not get the idea behind my reasoning. The node is limited, since the company was not able/ did not invest into a capable connection. Level shifting. Since they can cut off your main consuming appliances, they need less transport capacity. Good from an engineering point of view, but bad for the individual.

    Node limited: you are limited. Start pushing buttons, nothing will happen. You are in the black.

  42. harry said

    @Sod

    That is why I have a 4 kWh diesel generator. It switches on automatically when I have a power failure. Delivers electricity at 18 Eurocents/kWh.

  43. harry said

    @Sod,

    And in case you did not know this: Your ISP is probably working along the same model. When your neighbour is downloading a 20 GB movie, you have all of a sudden a frozen internet connection.

  44. Kan said

    Amazing how so many people just know how the smart grid would be implemented.

    Everybody knew how Obamacare would work as well, until they didn’t.

  45. Jeff Id said

    #38, Your criticism is fair enough, but if your energy price isn’t fixed, your charges become so complex as to be unknown. Who is your phone company? ATT. Different country, same problem?????

    You like the idea of people conserving, but peak power is only a cost issue, not a CO2 one. Peak power is about limitation strategy, nuclear power is a much better idea.

    Think about the motives of the people with the big switch. I mean it, consider what you want if you own a power company.

    As an individual, if you don’t have the authority to walk to your Air Conditioner or water heater, press a button and say no thanks to the dumb meter, you have nothing at all.

    Motives of those with the power are where the left regularly fails.

  46. harry said

    @Kan,

    Nobody knows how the smart grid will look like. But that it will have very scary powers is for sure. And is a general misconception that the smart grid is only about reading the energy use. It’s main part is actively interfering with the distribution of loads. That is it’s core.

  47. As an individual, if you don’t have the authority to walk to your Air Conditioner or water heater, press a button and say no thanks to the dumb meter, you have nothing at all.
    Again, this seems factually misplaced. All the company does is send out signals. Most appliances currently won’t respond to them at all. When they do, they will have an override switch. You can turn them on, and pay the current price, or you can choose to respond to the signals.

    You may think that the appliance makers are in league with the power companies to establish a world socialist government, but it isn’t so. They are selling appliances. And if you want to turn on the aircon any time, you can buy a device that will do that.

  48. Jeff Id said

    “You may think that the appliance makers are in league with the power companies to establish a world socialist government,”

    Reaaallly,,

    I think the homes also have a meter on them Nick but that’s not the point. Nor is world socialist government advocated by so many, the point is that when you really want that water heater, when you really need that air conditioner (the real daddy of peak load) what are you going to do when the generation capacity isn’t there? What options will you have?

    It’s pushing the generation requirement to the individual. It’s again giving the governments a further pass to continue not building enough power generation. It’s also pretty naive not to see it from the power companies perspective. They would absolutely love to take nearly all of the variance out of required delivery because it maximizes return on investment. Considering the huge additional costs and regulatory hurdles to build any power plants at all, we will be faced in 20 years with constant rolling brownouts masked initially with these dumb meters – which will very likely not be installed by choice.

    Your attempt to make me into the extremist for my opinions of these policies may be effective now, but IMO, the meters themselves are a symptom of extremist agendas.

    Today in the US, we pay a price for electricity which already includes capacity to support peak power usage on the hottest summer days. That price is sustainable by the middle and even the lower class in this country. The envirowhacko movement has supressed the construction of new power stations for decades and the strain is showing in California and New York, industrial business has rejected these states for enviro policy and where possible moved away. I know of a lot of examples in the last 3 years alone.

    The smart meter will save no individual home owners money but will allow environmentalists to extend the non-construction of needed power generation for years further. In my life in the US, we’ve never been without power excepting outages due to storms or physical line damage. We’ve always had access to whatever we need. Right now my home has an AC running and about a half dozen light bulbs, a computer, washer and a TV. Quite similar to the midday, when temps got very high. What advantage is it for my children to live a life where the washer only runs when power companies prefer??

    Are we saving the planet? Is that what I’m missing?

    Does the reduced emission make you less guilty?

    Do we think we’re helping the planet by not being comfortable?

    Or are we just missing the point that our society is fully 100% capable of providing peak power and minimal emissions outside of CO2 with current technology at a reasonable cost?

  49. WOW! lot’s of mis-speculation going on!
    First of all let me tell about my local co-op electric distributor.
    They have installed new smart meters w/ability by adding the contactor to the base of the meter to shut off the entire metered load, I have two meters for my home, one is at 9c per kwh and the other is at 6c per kwh, on the 6c meter side I have installed a 90amp contactor w/ radio controller to operate the contactor, the contract states that the load will not be off more than two hours at a time, hot water is separate radio switch and is off only 40min at a time. This is what is coming for everyone because of the lack of new power plants being built. OR else this is what WILL be done to save the grid….. read on…

    Our co-op electric distributor has been replacing ALL of the main distribution lines ( 2-3 times capacity) to allow for rolling black outs, why? because when you first re energize the lines the load will be higher for a brief time as the water pumps must refill pressure tanks and refrigerators must cool back down, so you must have excess capacity to run the rolling black outs.

    I prefer the radio controllers to rolling black outs, don’t you?

    The new meters can also charge any price per KWH at any time so it is possible to be charged 30c per KWH between 4pm and 6pm, very easy to do. (voluntary now)they are already playing around with subtracting money from your bank account EVERY DAY FOR YOUR 24hour USAGE!!!
    GET IT???? DO YOU???
    what is possible very soon if you want power for non essentials you pay per KWH from your account per hour at 1? 10? dollars per kilowatt hour at peak !!!!!!!!!!
    It is coming because of the dim wit sheeple like, “Nick Stokes said
    August 27, 2010 at 9:02 pm
    Sorry, I don’t get this post at all.

    you will be sorry at 10$ per KWH!!!!

    SOD can not comprehend this because he has tunnel vision, lead by the cagw goat herder gavin, eric etc.
    Oh by the way this topic I am truly an expert as this is my university diploma hanging on the wall is all about! IEEE!!!
    I wish I was wrong, I wish this was a big lie, but wishes are not real but what is coming will be real and not wishes.
    Tim

    Jeff if you want to post the pictures of my $1000 bucks worth of extra wiring just let me know by e-mail, Bart also

    Bart said
    August 28, 2010 at 4:37 am

    On real smart grid solutions (e.g. http://www.powermatcher.net/), nobody is forced to (not) do anything.
    You have left out rolling black outs, you won’t do anything! electrically!

  50. “Today in the US, we pay a price for electricity which already includes capacity to support peak power usage on the hottest summer days. That price is sustainable by the middle and even the lower class in this country.”

    Jeff, that’s the nub of it. Current practice is expensive, and as the NYT says, making load-shifting easier is already having an effect, which basically saves money. OK, the present price is sustainable – most things are, but most people like to save cost where they can.

    Your argument seems to mix this load adjustment capability with the likelihood of general power shortages. In the short run, power availability improves – everyone who signs up to dishwash at night makes more amps available to your A/C. If there is going to be a power shortage, it would happen independent of savings measures like this.

    The other thing you’re raising is that the meters could be used to stop supply selectively. But utilities can already cut to local areas – maybe this is finer grain, but it’s hard to see that that would make much difference if power really is lacking. I guess they could give preference to families with babies, or the local commissar, or whatever – well, that’s what votes are for.

  51. Jeff Id said

    “Your argument seems to mix this load adjustment capability with the likelihood of general power shortages.”

    They are absolutely intertwined. You have to take into account the motives of those with the switch.

    “But utilities can already cut to local areas – maybe this is finer grain, but it’s hard to see that that would make much difference if power really is lacking.”

    Let me sort it out for you, businesses with big $$ will not be cut, homes with small $$ will. That is the difference.

    This also allows power companies to peak generation capacity such that when equipment fails, there is less excess supply available from alternate generation. It’s a recipe for expanded and regular brownouts.

    “I guess they could give preference to families with babies, or the local commissar, or whatever – well, that’s what votes are for.”

    I don’t believe you would think families with babies would come first, it will be those who make and pay big money, business. Votes are for politicians, who recognize contributions (at least in the US). In China it’s standard practice.

  52. JMM said

    So weird. In Russia, I had a day/night meter on my house (someone from LenEnergo would come out to periodically make sure I hadn’t messed with the clock on it, as well as to take readings). “Daytime” (0700 – 2100) kW-h cost something like four times what nighttime ones did. Everyone had the alternative to get just single-cost meters, but they would pay the higher price all the time. Commercial hookups could be worked roughly the same way, but the cost (base, and ‘nighttime’) was rather higher. It was very rare to have brownouts or power supply issues (provided none of the generating equipment was being maintained — which I only saw once in three years, and then only for an afternoon).

    It seemed a quite reasonable — and effective — way to keep peak demand from sticking so high up above more-or-less baseline. Is that option just too straightforward for Stateside monopolists?

  53. Brian H said

    Whether $13 or $50 or $200/kW for “Eligible equipment and project-related costs [including] but … not limited to controls for HVAC equipment, lighting, process loads, motors and motor drives, metering equipment, equipment installation, engineering services, and the development of a curtailment plan”, that’s an insane price. The cost of new generating plant is from $1 to $5/kW. Hyper-paying for “conservation” and “curtailment” is makes sense only if you are paying for restriction and control for its own sake.

  54. Why wont Bart accept a few (entirely reasonable) realities *first*?

    The point of having energy is to consume it – it is the same as the point of having a life is to live it. Arguments about efficiencies break down beyond a certain point, “peak load” has no meaning to a consumer.

    If a system has structural and capacity redundancies – it is a sign of health, as long as the system is able to actively maintain itself in that state. The human body is organized along same lines. You sleep for 6 hours – no ‘activity’ whatsover and then you are most active during the middle of the day – an enormous difference in activity state and this is made possible only by pre-existing redundancy in capacity – of humans. The power plants redundancies are just a mirror of the same phenomenon.

    By the same argument, food prices should be highest at lunch time – say 100$ for a sandwich because there is a “peak hunger” attack at exactly 12-2 PM.

    Only let us remember, they are already set at the highest possible rate to begin with anyway.

  55. John M said

    Only slightly OT, since it does relate to artificial pricing.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/30/business/energy-environment/30green.html?src=busln

    Note the headline, “…beginning…”

    I understand the NYT is now reporting that the Jets didn’t win the Super Bowl in 2005 as well.

  56. John F. Pittman said

    Re: Luke Skywarmer (Aug 29 00:56), Though not an IEEE, I too am in the energy business. Wish Jeff was wrong, but he is not. You cannot not separate load capacity, and demand as being championed. Jeff is stating what will happen when excess demand occurs. The point is the excess demand. From the system point of view it has already occurred. The hysteresis of the system means if you do not have your stand-by ready, a brownout will occur. Brownouts do not just mean unable to meet demand. Many electric parts will wear at 3 times or higher rate. Some systems cannot tolerate it all and tend to crash expensively. If the power plant has not been built, it cannot supply the power. It is really that simple from the demand side. So what is proposed. Not what you believe is being proposed now, but what are they proposing for the smart grid. They are proposing demand control. Control does mean the ability to stop, or it is not control. Note the money differential, ask yourself if we can generate cheaper than what the electric companies are paying for these negawatts, why is this occurring? Until that answer is given, and the comparisons made, then Jeff is correct about looking at the power companies angle. If they can pay you $13 for what would cost $5, just how much money can they make in their monopolistic new policy?

    On a further note, I see the wind, solar advantage is that it allows the electric companies to build what we need anyway, due to these sources’ ineffectiveness. I also have seen using Denmark as an example, that the technology is used to increase the total price of the electricity. Wonder how that happened? You can google it and get a good idea of what “controlled” power generation really means: costly power.

  57. sod said

    In Russia, I had a day/night meter on my house (someone from LenEnergo would come out to periodically make sure I hadn’t messed with the clock on it, as well as to take readings). “Daytime” (0700 – 2100) kW-h cost something like four times what nighttime ones did.

    yes, an old technique, that existed for decades in many countries. funny how governments didn t use it to increase day time price to a million, isn t it?

    Whether $13 or $50 or $200/kW for “Eligible equipment and project-related costs [including] but … not limited to controls for HVAC equipment, lighting, process loads, motors and motor drives, metering equipment, equipment installation, engineering services, and the development of a curtailment plan”, that’s an insane price.

    i think the majority of you still have not understood the problem. if the grid is at peak supply rate, when i decide that i want another boiled egg, they ll have to switch on an additional coal power plant to supply my boiling egg. (and they ll have to switch that plant on a couple of days in advance, as it isn t that fast a process. my egg will cost them thousands of dollars.

    paying me a couple of bucks to keep me from boiling an egg during peak demand, is a clever idea.

    If a system has structural and capacity redundancies – it is a sign of health, as long as the system is able to actively maintain itself in that state. The human body is organized along same lines. You sleep for 6 hours – no ‘activity’ whatsover and then you are most active during the middle of the day – an enormous difference in activity state and this is made possible only by pre-existing redundancy in capacity – of humans. The power plants redundancies are just a mirror of the same phenomenon.

    the majority of you also still confuses peak supply capacity with reserve capacity. there is not the slightest indication, that the reserve will be smaller, if peak demand gets smaller. you have zero evidence for your assumptions!

    By the same argument, food prices should be highest at lunch time – say 100$ for a sandwich because there is a “peak hunger” attack at exactly 12-2 PM.

    you will simply not get a table in the best restaurant in town. a price system would be much better, but it simply is not very practical. it also was rather difficult for electricity. with smart grids, it is possible!

  58. Kan said

    “you will simply not get a table in the best restaurant in town.”

    Ummm, so in your book, if you don’t eat at the best restaurant, then everybody just goes hungry?

    In my book, smart guy number 2 see’s the need for more tables at lunch and opens restaurant numbers 2,3,4,5 and feeds the starving masses.

    I know, I know, smart guy number 2 will be depleting the worlds food supply that will lead to mass starvation anyway. But at least for today (and tomorrow) we are all fed.

  59. harry said

    @All,

    The smart grid is about control. Daily, hourly, minutely(?) registration of you energy consumption, broken down into every individual appliance. A marketing researchers wet dream. Combined with the power to switch down appliances ad libitum, it is absolute and total control. Big brother as conceived by George Orwell is a child’s play compared to the power of the smart grid. As a customer, you hand over the control of your own way of living to the distribution company and the government. Combined with the information that your ISP is already storing about your internet visits, your telephone calls and the use of your TV, they have a control far beyound your imagination.

    If that is what you want, please feel free to engage. But I have my reservations.

  60. boballab said

    #57 and 58

    Good thing for McDonalds it wasn’t run by Sod, for if it was they would only have one restraunt and Big Mac’s costing $100, Burger King would have quickly put them out of business. For those looking at Price Controls seem to overlook the basics of economics. you are only taking into account demand without looking at supply. When Demand for X increases prices will initially rise but what happens? A smart business man comes along and gets a bigger supply of X and undercuts his competitor, thus prices fall and X increases in use.

    Now lets put this into electrical use. Where I live we do have choice in providers and unlike what some of you think the primary purpose of that provider is to make money not save the planet. So what do you think is going to happen when one of the providers figures out that by building a new power planet he will be able to undercut his competitor, thus getting a bigger share of the market and make more money then by price controls?

    Oh btw you proponents of the “Smart Grid” do realized that the “Smart Meters” come built with their own WIFI lan system so they can talk to the new “Smart Grid” enabled products as well as each meter and the grid? That GE, for instance, is making appliances where once installed the Provider has ultimate control over your appliances? That once the provider turns off your AC, water pump (for those with wells), refigerator and oven you are SOL until the provider decides you can have those back again, You have no say in the matter. I wonder how long it will take before some bright young hacker cracks the “security” on those “Smart Meters” WiFi and has some fun?

  61. harry said

    @Boallab,

    As to your last question, I will take the hardware hacker’s approach: open the appliance, cut out the communication platter, rewire it and run it as I want. No smart hacking required.

    Disclaimer:
    I am a certified electronic engineer, do not try this when you are not qualified.

  62. boballab said

    #61

    LOL I am a Navy Nuke power school ET graduate that decided to more over to regular electronics and ended working in Crypto and Satcomm systems and that would be what I would do too, however most 14 to 20 year olds don’t have our backgrounds but there is quite a few that can crack a lan. So you can imagine a fine young man late at night perfecting his technique, cracks old Mrs. Browns Smart Meter shutting off her heat in the middle of winter Ahh imagine the headlines….

    However clean tech market research group Pike Research released on August 3 a report outlining the vulnerability of smart meters to hackers. Data on household behavior is encrypted in commercial or home networks for example but then decrypted at the smart meter; as a result, for a short while the data is available for hackers to access easily.

    Despite spending on smart grid security predicted to reach $575 million by 2015, smart meters remain the most vulnerable point in the grid according to Pike Research. The vulnerability of smart meters suggests that companies are putting their own, not the consumers’ interests first. The report states that smart meter manufacturers “demonstrate little interest in solving this problem, as long as the data is adequately protected in their own domains.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/despite-large-smart-grid-security-expenditure-meters-remain-a-target-for-hackers-2045068.html

    Who controls the off switch?

    Abstract—We’re about to acquire a significant new cybervulnerability.The world’s energy utilities are starting to install hundreds of millions of ‘smart meters’ which contain a remote off switch. Its main purpose is to ensure that customers who default on their payments can be switched remotely to a prepay tariff; secondary purposes include supporting interruptible tariffs and implementing rolling power cuts at times of supply shortage.

    The off switch creates information security problems of a kind, and on a scale, that the energy companies have not had to face before. From the viewpoint of a cyber attacker – whether a hostile government agency, a terrorist organisation or even a militant environmental group – the ideal attack on a target country is to interrupt its citizens’ electricity supply. This is the cyber equivalent of a nuclear strike; when electricity stops, then pretty soon everything else does too. Until now, the only plausible ways
    to do that involved attacks on critical generation, transmission and distribution assets, which are increasingly well defended.

    Smart meters change the game. The combination of commands that will cause meters to interrupt the supply, of applets and software upgrades that run in the meters, and of cryptographic keys that are used to authenticate these commands and software changes, create a new strategic vulnerability, which we discuss in this paper.

    http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/meters-offswitch.pdf

    That second link is a nice little paper put together by two people from Cambridge University and is intereesting to read. As it stands now you put in a “Smart Grid” just bend over and kiss your ass goodbye becasue China can take your country down at will. Lets not even think about what Al Quiada would do if they got a shot at the Grid.

  63. harry said

    @Boballab,

    Sorry to have your name mispelled in my previous post. I agree 100% with you. And the additional risk: the (de)coding algorithm is also in my smart meter, where I can follow it during its functioning. As Israeli scientists have shown, the addition of a small radioactive source to an encryption device will cause it to make random errors (They broke AES 256, as I am not mistaken). These can be exploited to find the encryption key quite rapidly, at least 1000-multiple fold. Once in posession of the public and the private key, you can proceed with reduced investment in time.

  64. Brian H said

    I repeat my observation here: the cost per “kilowatt saved” is insane compared to just adding capacity. Thus saving and flexibility can’t be the motivation. The money is being laid on for other purposes.

  65. Pops said

    Build nuclear plants and this whole discussion is a moot point, especially if we go the route of reprocessing spent fuel rods. Google “IFR” (Integral Fast Reactor).

    It’s extremely difficult to avoid the conclusion that it’s about power – political power, not electrical power – given what happened to IFR.

  66. PhilJourdan said

    Sod #31 – “so how many “bin-terminations” have happened so far?”

    The correct terminology is “bin-fines”. And how many? Is google not working for you? Is so, I can do your work for you.

  67. Brian H said

    As I posted on another thread, the book ‘Sustainable Energy’, by David MacKay, Physics professor and UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (available in PDF here: http://withouthotair.com/download.html ), dissects the viability of virtually all proposed energy sourcing — and along the way demolishes the most common of the anti-nuke arguments.

    The difficulty of building nuclear power fast has been exaggerated with
    the help of a misleading presentation technique I call “the magic playing field.” In this technique, two things appear to be compared, but the basis of the comparison is switched halfway through. The Guardian’s environment
    editor, summarizing a report from the Oxford Research Group, wrote “For nuclear power to make any significant contribution to a reduction in global
    carbon emissions in the next two generations, the industry would have to construct nearly 3000 new reactors – or about one a week for 60 years. A civil nuclear construction and supply programme on this scale is a pipe
    dream, and completely unfeasible. The highest historic rate is 3.4 new reactors a year.” 3000 sounds much bigger than 3.4, doesn’t it! In this application of the “magic playing field” technique, there is a switch not only of timescale but also of region. While the first figure (3000 new reactors over 60 years) is the number required for the whole planet, the second figure (3.4 new reactors per year) is the maximum rate of building by a single country (France)!

    A more honest presentation would have kept the comparison on a per-planet basis. France has 59 of the world’s 429 operating nuclear reactors, so it’s plausible that the highest rate of reactor building for the whole planet
    was something like ten times France’s, that is, 34 new reactors per year. And the required rate (3000 new reactors over 60 years) is 50 new reactors per year. So the assertion that “civil nuclear construction on this scale is a pipe dream, and completely unfeasible” is poppycock. Yes, it’s a big construction rate, but it’s in the same ballpark as historical construction rates.

  68. Neil said

    I work in the electricity industry in a deregulated electricity market. Firstly there is no common definition of a smart grid. Smart meters are not even commonly defined. The smartest have two way communication, remore disconnection and some form of wifi capability. Why are people installing them? It varies by jurisdiction. Unfortunately in most countries they are being deployed for regulatory reasons. These reasons are generally to pass the “true cost” of supply to the customer, to “incentivise” the customer to use a scarce resource carefully, to reduce cost to serve or to extend the economic life of the network or because of climate change.

    The standard residential meter globally measures only kWh, it may have day/night capability and some places through time have recorded kW. Most industrial applications are full time of use and are generally remotely readable ie no need to go look at the register to prepare a bill.

    I will digress slightly to talk about electricity as a product. It is interesting in that supply and demand must be matched in real time. It also can not be easily substituted (or stired cost effectively so far). The demand for electricity is also derived demand. That is no one (a part from a few perverts) actually wants electricity, we all want what it powers up, TV, fridge internet etc. As a consequence use and cost, cause and effect is very disconnected in electricity. Technology (at a good price) has not previously been avaliable to close the information gap. People have been searching for a “better meter” for decades. The advent of the internet, home connection, free radio spectrum, declining costs of elctronics and the mass production of wifi capable products is changing all of this. The early driver for smart meters was to avoid teh cost of reading the meter.

    At the same time “economic drivers” and NIMBYS, climate change rubbish etc has actually made it hard to build stuff in electricity. Try building a new transmission line in most developed countries, what about a new hydro (greater than 50MW is now consider non-renewable WTF??). As a consequence many transmission systems are struggling. Enter the smart grid etc as the industry now tries to make the exsiting assets go further.

    So what are the likely consequences? Unfortunately many of the previous posters have valid concerns. A smart meter allows the cost of electricity to be moved from an average cost to a marginal or similar cost. At the moment in most electricity systems there is a lot of averaging. I dont have a problem with this. It is common in most consumer products. Even mass consumer commodities such as petrol and mortgage interest rates are still reasonably averaged. But it will be possible to both calculate and bill consumers by the half hour (hour etc). This is quite common for industrial customers in deregulated systems, but they also get to buy the equivalent of swap contracts to protect themselves against the price volatility. This gives them the incentive, but does not force them to reduce consumption when prices are higher. Do you really want this at home? The grid will be run more on the edge of control, relying more and more om computers to keep it in balance and to avoid cascade failure. The consequence of a failure will probably increase.

    Unfortunately electricity does require some central control. This is unfortuante in that it attract people who beleive in central planning. It also has some monopoly characteristics, so it gets regulators, who through simple job self selection beleive in regulation. It also attracts economists. So we get an unholey alliance of central planning, regulation and economists trying to create perfect competition or mimic it.

    Where will it all end up? Who knows, but I expect it will get more expensive, more people will move to some degree of self generation and more out side control will be place overtly or covertly on consumption.

  69. harry said

    @Neil,

    I completely agree with your analysis. And I would like to point out the information that a smart meter can gather for marketeers. It is this information that will be used to devise the pricing schedules during a day, a week, a month or a year. The scheme will be made to have to pay most when you need the electricity most: during the heat wave, during the day, during the hottests hours of the day. So we all will be working towards optimizing the pricing schedules of the companies that are not capable of providing all that we want at the same time. That is why they want to ration it. Rationing can hide the fact that they have nothing to sell in case of massive loads of the grid. And they call it climate sensibility?

  70. Sod, please do not pin what you thought I said, on my head. :)

    The human organism is built on a foundation of redundancies. It is a well-engineered system, it runs with minimal repair and upkeep for about 100 years. Going by the ‘smartness’ argument, we can all chop off half of our liver, one brain hemisphere, one entire kidney, one lung, and so on, because we would all still be ‘alive’.

    Don’t subtract from today’s baseline, to establish a new baseline, so that any increase above that can sound like ‘progress’ or improvement, or smartness. If a lazy-ass power company that has to run windmills because they want to participate in cooling the globe and produce less power as a result, do not lay paws on my appliance usage and call that ‘smartness’. If there is peak load, produce more power. You want to be a power company and limit consumer usage of your only product – electricity? Heh.

    Ask anyone in Pakistan or India, for example, where smartness regularly affects large sections of electricity consumers. It is called load-shedding.

    If I dine at the best restaurant in town, I get something special for the money I throw at them. By your logic, I should simply feel special for the smart grid charging me ridiculous dollars for the same electricity.

  71. Brian H said

    Shub;
    For “smartness” read “compliance”. Then the sentences make sense.

  72. Brian H said

    There’s still time! EnergyCentral is hosting a conference for Smart Meter providers about how to convince your customers to install the things:
    http://www.energycentral.com/events/22139/Communicating-Smart-Meter-Value?
    https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/685547649

    Communicating
    Smart Meter Value

    Exclusive Underwriter:

    If you are involved in Management or Customer Service and are responsible for communicating the value of smart meters to your utility customers, you don’t want to miss this online discussion – Communicating Smart Meter Value.

    Smart meters have become the public face of a smarter grid. Well-publicized public pushback over allegedly inaccurate meters, however, has obscured many successful rollouts. How have utilities with successful rollouts communicated the value of smart meters to their customers? What messages and media have worked? How have complaints been successfully handled? What issues need addressing?

    Register Now

    Thursday – September 9
    12:00 pm ET

    Cost: FREE-includes Interactive Q&A Session

    Join Intelligent Utility Daily Editor-in-Chief, Phil Carson, and a panel that includes Monique Austin from Austin Energy and Judith Schwartz—principal at To The Point, a technology marketing firm, to hear their answers to key questions about communicating the smart grid value proposition to customers. Municipal utility Austin Energy has had little pushback on its 400,000-meter rollout and now has a rate case pending on time-of-use pricing. Monique Austin serves as the utility’s client relationship coordinator. Judith Schwartz has been involved in marketing new technology since she was involved with Apple’s introduction of the personal computer. She is involved in the Demand Response Coordinating Committee’s National Action Plan messaging platform, and has addressed many of the questions you have regarding how to communicate the value of the smart meter to your customers.

    Register Now

    Attend this event and you will:

    * Gain insight into one utility’s successful smart meter rollout and understand how Austin Energy’s customer outreach efforts have contributed to that success.
    * Learn the components of Austin Energy’s customer outreach program and the messages and media used to support it.
    * Hear a high-level discussion about how Austin does (or does not) fit the national picture and how local smart meter deployments figure in discussions of the nation’s smart grid efforts.
    * Have access to a national perspective on communicating smart meter value and the latest thinking on customer segmentation and preferences.

    Register Now

    Register now to learn how your peers presented the value proposition of smart meters to their customers. You will hear how they segmented customer databases and created targeted messages to resonate with each customer segment. Communicating this key value proposition correctly can result in faster customer acceptance and understanding of how the smart meter benefits them.

    There will be an interactive Q&A session at the conclusion of the webcast.

    The event is free, but seating is limited — reserve your seat today! If you are unable to make the live event, register to receive a link to the post-event recording.

    ABOUT INTELLIGENT UTILITY REALITY WEBCASTS
    These exclusive web events provide diverse, real-world perspectives on how energy providers are building intelligent utilities to deliver on the promise of information-enabled energy. Stripping away the hype, they allow you to learn from your peers about the realities behind distribution automation, metering, demand response, and asset management deployments.

    New buzz-phrase to note: “information-enabled energy”. Who wouldn’t want some? :-D

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