Unfree Energy

Is this the future of energy?

Planners envision installing a new kind of power meter in homes – a wall-based unit that can monitor how much electricity is being used by various appliances and turn them off when demand for energy is higher, and thus costlier to consume. The project also would upgrade the utility’s computer systems so it can integrate more renewable energy. …
“There’s a lot of opportunities for us to improve our knowledge of what’s using power, and making it easier for us to shut off the power when we’re not around,” said Bob Gilligan, a GE vice president. “Most consumers aren’t really aware of how much energy they’re using at any time of day.”

A consumer unit that monitors energy in the house, giving the homeowner more information and control, would be a worthwhile product, but this sounds like more of a top-down initiative with some disconcerting possibilities for the future:

The smart grid would help integrate additional clean energy into the grid through computers that could quickly manage Maui’s power needs, adding and subtracting alternative power sources when desired.
“It will give the utility another knob to turn when wind suddenly calms on an afternoon, or when people are coming home and turning on their air conditioning,” said Devon Manz, an engineer at GE’s Global Research Center.

Maybe there are two distinct components to this “smart grid” — the appliance-monitoring device and the new knob back at the power company’s office — but even if that’s the case, it’s a short step to computers’ rationing energy through appliance-specific restrictions.

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14 years ago

That sounds a lot like Green Box (http://www.getgreenbox.com/) which is something that I can’t wait to get. It’s a box that hooks into your electric meter and will communicate with your computer to show your electricity usage in real time. You can run a graph, go turn something off or on and see the change in electricity usage. Brilliant idea, only available in California for now.

14 years ago

Justin, The community of Wailea on the island of Maui (727.2 square mile island) is just 1 of 70 smart grid pilots nationwide but the only one where the smart grid test is being conducted. Why you might ask? It’s because the island of Maui and Maui Electric Company is an isolated grid onto its self. As for the smart grid or add on control box (like the old BSR-10 electric control system) manipulating private in-house appliances; the appliances should be smart appliances designed to work with a smart grid or smart grid add on controller box. I have not been to Wailea to review new residential construction there but if this is General Electric’s intent then I would surmise new residential construction might have included new GE smart appliances in single family residences and condominiums in anticipation of the smart grid installation (in Europe some new refrigerators have bar code scanners or RFID readers that create a shopping list of used food products). The smart grid main usage is integrating peak electricity demand and balancing loads with the main generating plant, the Kaheawa wind farm, Kaheawa alternate energy storage farm, photovoltaic technologies and other renewable resources without tripping out the main electric grid. Hawaiian Electric Company owns the patent on “shock absorber” allowing wind farms to be connected to electrical grids. Net energy metering is a special electric meter that allows the smart grid to credit government, commercial and private users any alternate energy fed into the smart grid from their locations thereby lowering individual monthly electric bills. Hawaiian Electric Company (parent of Maui Electric Co.) signed a historic agreement with the State of Hawaii. The energy agreement, part of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, puts Hawaii on a path to supply 40 percent of electricity needs and 70… Read more »

14 years ago

General Electric has been designing new smart kitchens and appliances over the years.
Major parts to the puzzle are the smart electric grid allowing two way communications.
A smart electric meter which allows two way communications between Electric Co and meter.
A GE Home Energy Manager which allows two way communications between appliances and smart meter.
Appliance communications module which allows two way communications to GE Home Energy Manager.
It all boils down to the Electric Co sending out a signal to the smart meter informing it peak demand rates are in effect.
The meter sends a signal to GE Home Energy Manager electricity peak demand rates are in effect.
The GE Home Energy Manager sends a signal to appliance communications module in the appliance to change appliance to operate in reduced energy power mode.
When peak demand rates are not in effect the Electric Co. sends an all clear low rates signal and appliances go into full power mode.
Of course all the parts of the puzzle are manufactured by GE costing about $200 to $250 for the GE Home Energy Manager. No cost listed for plug-in appliance board to GE appliances or each GE appliance. GE indicates 140 million electric meters in the U.S. Converting a large number of them to smart meters will take about 10 years.
A home utilizing GE smart technology and all GE smart appliances would save about 20% off electric bill or less than adding solar photovoltaic system to house and selling excess alternate energy to Electric Co.

14 years ago

Next move will be for the government to paste an rfid to your forehead and monitor your energy use. too much and they’ll cut your food rations

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