Green Car Congress  
Go to GCC Discussions forum About GCC Contact  RSS Subscribe Twitter headlines

« California ARB to Hold Public Meeting on Feebate Program for New Vehicle GHG Reduction | Main | Better Place Partners with AGL and Macquarie to Build EV Infrastructure in Australia; Victoria Sets Up Fuel Efficiency Working Group to Focus on First-Generation EVs »

Print this post

PG&E to Deploy up to 10.3 Million GE SmartMeters by 2011

22 October 2008

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) of California plans to deploy as many as 3.3 million GE meters equipped with SmartMeter technology to utility customers in northern and central California. Overall, PG&E plans to deploy 10.3 million SmartMeter gas and electric meters by the end of 2011 to virtually all of its customers.

Most electricity customers currently pay one set price for electricity, even though the cost to produce electricity tends to be higher during peak hours and lower during off-peak hours. With time of use pricing, smart meter technologies may offer lower prices during off-peak periods, empowering participating consumers to better manage their consumption—and ultimately—how much they pay for electricity.

The GE meters will be equipped with Silver Spring Networks smart grid/advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) communications technology. This technology will enable two-way communications between the utility and the electricity customer, supporting renewable generation at the customer’s home, critical peak and time-of-use pricing and more.

Silver Spring’s low-cost, high-function network interface cards (NICs) are available for electricity meters from L+G, Itron and Sensus in addition to GE.

By employing SmartMeter technology, PG&E will, in the future, be better able to detect and respond to power outages. In the United States, power outages and disruptions in the grid currently cost businesses $100 billion or more per year while disrupting the lives of consumers. According to EPRI, California experiences the greatest losses associated with power outages and disruptions, totaling $13.2-20.4 billion per year.

Smart meters are also being deployed globally. The province of Victoria, Australia has mandated the deployment of AMI smart meters to all energy consumers to begin in 2009 and to be completed in 2013. Ontario, Canada, has mandated the deployment of smart meters by 2010.

October 22, 2008 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4fbe53ef010535a86650970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference PG&E to Deploy up to 10.3 Million GE SmartMeters by 2011:

Comments

Smart meters, dumb utility, dumber customers.

My utility is smart. Not uncommon outside of California. My utility provides low cost reliable electricity. The excess generating is used to sell electricity to neighboring utilities.

@ Kit P

What a terrible thing to say!

In other words, you have absolutely NO incentive to shift some of your usage to off peak time slots?

What incentive, apart from NONE, do you have to sell (green) power back to your utility?

Don't build, or be constrained not to be able to build, enough electric generating capacity, by the Green Wackos. So install "smart-meters" that can turn off the service to a building remotely.

What does that recipe do? Why it provides a method to RATION electricity, to spread the shortages to everyone, except for privileged ones, hospitals and of course the politicians and their ass-kissers.

In these circumstances, installing "smart meters" is preparing for RATIONING.

Some Democrat bureaucrat will then decide how many hours a day you deserve to have electricity.

Don't say it can't happen. Marxists are always expert at creating shortages and creating queues for food, bread, toilet paper, water, electricity, gasoline, et cetera. That is essentially their only "successes". More than anything that is why the were tossed out on their asses in half the world, the Marxist half. People just got tired of standing in line forever, and revolted.

@macroshaft

What is terrible is the number of dumb who kill themselves producing energy. When your 'green' energy is not green, why should we provide incentives.

What is also terrible macroshaft is your complete absence of critical thinking. Do you think labeling something 'green' or 'smart' makes it so?

You have several variable factors:

Demand - where you have a clearly defined daily, weekly and annual pattern - smart meters can be used to "encourage" people to avoid the daytime peaks and do things like clothes and dish washing in the nighttime troughs.

Supply: the patterns from solar are reasonable enough - they follow a daily pattern that well suits regions with air conditioning.
However, wind has no useful pattern - even assuming you can predict several days out, you can hardly tell people to "wait till Thursday and wash stuff then" - I can't see how you can usefully do demand management for wind.

On the other hand, if you have an electric car or some other electricity storage device, you can have loads of fun (with the daily supply cycle).

Improved meters do have a useful function.

“By employing SmartMeter technology, PG&E will, in the future, be better able to detect and respond to power outages. In the United States, power outages and disruptions in the grid currently cost businesses $100 billion or more per year while disrupting the lives of consumers. According to EPRI, California experiences the greatest losses associated with power outages and disruptions, totaling $13.2-20.4 billion per year.”

The traditional way of ensuring a reliable supply of electricity is to have an adequate reserve margin and maintain the distributions system.

I am all for turning off electricity to keep the grid from collapsing. I would just do in differently. Start with the governor and top officials at the utilities. The last people without power should be the lowest income and least influential customers.


When I worked for a California utility, I got a call from an irate customer who’s AC had been turned by a radio controlled signal as part of a voluntary cost saving program. Of course the utility had no such controls for our offices.

The reason I am so critical of California utilities is that they only excel at greenwashing.

stas:

What incorrect things to say about one of the top-10 capitalist high efficiency tools.

Smart meters (paid by end users) are used lower cost and increase profits for every energy distributor while reducing the capital investment required at the production end.

All distribution networks become much more efficient if they are used at close to their fully load potential 24/7. Building production centers/plants and distribution networks for consumption peaks is very expensive and not efficient. Spreading the load evenly is the best way to maximize revenues and $$$ profits and less cost to the patient users. It is a win-win solution.

Higher efficiency = less investment and more profits and is not pro socialist.

Let's not get carried away on the wrong path.

PG&E, a fixed part of the old energy dynasty, is struggling to maintain their monopoly on electric distribution. A "smart meter" as pointed out, is a consumer financed device to centrally regulate customer electric use. Does it actually save construction of power plants? - doubtful. Central utility providers already have a stranglehold on production and distribution. Without their formidable lobbies, the utilities would be subject to serious antitrust actions.

Now that there are viable alternatives on the horizon - they are panicking. They demonstrate a disturbing lack of vision by fearing the loss of the residential (about 35% total electric use) market. If PG&E wanted to enter the energy future they would announce a distributed energy project, to offload residential energy demand onto small, Residential Power Units.

Instead "smart meters" are a not very smart way to try to protect their investment in an out-dated grid. And to somehow mitigate a major problem:

"California experiences the greatest losses associated with power outages and disruptions, totaling $13.2-20.4 of $100 billion per year."

Distributed power generation would essentially eliminate these losses. Eliminate new coal fired plants. Eliminate new transmission lines. But that puts power in the hands of the customer. Energy independence. Doddering old bureaucracies cannot have that. Unless they see the light.

It is now time to start the end of the electric utility. Most electricity in the US is generated from burning coal and natural gas. This is done with high theoretical efficiency, but the second law of thermodynamics requires that 40 percent to 80 percent or more of the energy be wasted to the air.

This energy, now wasted to the air, can be used to heat and cool buildings. It is called combined heat and power and cooling or cogeneration. This process can save more fuel use and cost less than any form of solar electricity. Including the extra fuel costs over those for just providing heat cogeneration is always money saving and CO2 saving in the long run. The extra capital costs can be paid back in as little as a few months but usualy take a few years. Swimming pool operators at schools where electricity is expensive have a very short payback period because more heat is used at low temperatures and the electric demand is also high.

An automobile is a very low efficiency fuel to mechanical energy converter; When idling at a stop, a car wastes up to 100 percent of its fuel energy.

It is possible to use heat to create cold for air-conditioning. The gas or electric refrigerators in motor homes and some hotel rooms use such a process.

UTC and others make large building air-conditioners that use heat for cooling. Small home units may be available somewhere.

The waste heat from an engine or gas turbine exhaust can be used in these cooling units and UTC makes complete units that use gas to generate elecricity and provide air-conditioning and heating and hot water.

If natural gas were delivered free to electric power plants, the price of electricity at the home would drop by a maximum of forty percent. Every dollar of your bill would be reduced, at most, to 60 cents.

With coal fired power plants the cost of the fuel to the consumer is only 20 percent of the bill.

For nuclear power plants the cost of the uranium used is much less than 20 percent of the bill, and can be reduced to 5 percent or less with newer reactors. The used fuel rods of some present reactors can be used in newer reactors, and the cost of the uranium in these fuel rods is less than zero because the power companies are already paying for their eventual long term storage.

Most of the cost of electricity is in the capital and operating costs plus profits to the owners. Deregulation has caused the price of electricity to increase sharply to home owners. Large industries pay less or the power companies would lose their business, but individual home owners have no say.

Now the time for home owners to generate their own electricity has started. The availability of natural gas is the most important factor. There are units that burn natural gas and generate electricity for homes and deliver hot water to be used for heating the house and the bath.

Computer control and high power electronics is the other factor in local generation of power. High power electronics now allow common alternating currents and voltages to be produced from high-power storage batteries.

The free piston steam LION from Germany is an interesting example of cogeneration. The HONDA combustion engine unit is far more wide spread and has over 50,000 units in operation. Both of these units require an operating electric grid as does Whispergen and others, but LION will offer a system that will operate during grid failure.

The main reason that these units do not operate without a grid connection is that they do not produce enough electricity for a house's high peak loads. This problem is solved with the use of batteries and two or more Combined-Heat-Power units. Except for the high price, ZEBRA batteries are the best for this type of service. EFFPOWER has prototype products that use lead and could be cheaper because of it. UQM has just announced products that will deliver high quality AC electricity from a bank of batteries in an electric car or elsewhere.

Many solar systems use the grid to "store" electricity, but this is not true storage, and there are many economic, safety, and regulatory issues that do not permit such an operation on a widespread basis. The few low-power solar systems now so connected have no measurable effect, but the present grid operation cannot tolerate a large number of such connections and the economic issues of such an operation are unclear.

It is best for each building to supply its own electric storage. This storage can be quite small and only needs to be enough to give time to bring additional engines into operation. Vanadium Redox Batteries could be very good storage for larger buildings. The failure of the natural gas supply can be compensated for by a system that makes a mix of stored propane and air. The ratio of engines to batteries depends upon the ratio of their costs and the desired results. The grid uses almost all "engines" and very little storage except for hydro-electric dams.

Natural gas is made and can be made from coal and biomass. It is very easy and fast to make natural gas from corn, potatoes, sugar, fruits etc, and remote farms that use propane might very well convert to natural gas and use their own and their neighbors waste crops. If mixed with the right amount of air, propane can be used to substitute for natural gas as a back up; the reverse is not true.

Coal to natural gas plants insure that there is a local supply of natural gas in the US. These plants should also produce methanol that can be used directly in some cars or quickly converted gasoline. In contrast to gasoline, methanol can be stored forever. These plants can also extract nitrogen fertilizer from the coal or produce it from air and hydrogen made from coal.

Gas lines are far less suseptible to weather, and gas can be stored if needed or a substitute used. As a start, no natural gas burning furnace should be built without at least a co-generation unit that can supply enough electricity to operate the entire furnace including the blower. This, at least, should be the required high efficiency furnace design; it would also be good if the unit could power a few CFLs or at least a few LEDs.

Here are some tips on how to safely restore power due to unexpected power outages and safely use emergency generators.

How to Choose the Right Emergency Electric Generator
http://www.mainpowerconnect.com/static3/howto.asp

How to Safely Operate a Portable Generator and Transfer Switch
http://www.mainpowerconnect.com/static3/index.asp

Generator Safety Frequently Asked Questions
http://www.mainpowerconnect.com/static3/faq.asp

@Henry:

I just looked at the LION Powerblock cogenerator and found it very interesting. Right now, as you note they are not yet capable of the 10kWh minimum a typical household needs for electric. But they are generating up to 3kWh and that will improve. The limit of moving parts in the free piston engine and linear generator all suggest this to be a prime residential co-generation candidate. Hopefully we will see some rapid expansion on research into these simple thermal energy converters.

However, we still need electrical utilities around because in a true distributed power generation ecosystem where every building generates power either by solar panels or wind turbines, you have to find a way to distribute excess power from each power generation source to customers that really need it--and only electrical utilities are equipped to do this quite complicated process.

Huh? Solar and wind? The utility business model for distributed power has to do one thing; buy power from RPUs and offer to supply it as backup or primary power via the local grid. A local grid is a stripped down version of grid wiring already in place. Ninety percent of RPU power will come from new tech co-generation systems - eliminating intermittent production.

Solar and wind will predominate in land areas where they excel. Deserts for solar. Plains (offshore) for wind. KIS.

The trolls are both on the side of 19th-century technology.  Who knew?

Quoth the Stas-troll:

Some Democrat bureaucrat will then decide how many hours a day you deserve to have electricity.
Whereas the customer can decide for themselves if they'd rather pay 25¢/kWh to run their A/C on-peak, or 10¢/kWh to run an Ice Bear overnight.  Neither of the trolls shows a hint of understanding that the cost of the last few percent of generation capacity is much higher than the rest, and that capitalism requires that this cost be applied to those whose usage incurs it.  The current system is (surprise!) socialist.

Quoth sulleny:

Distributed power generation would essentially eliminate these losses. Eliminate new coal fired plants. Eliminate new transmission lines. But that puts power in the hands of the customer.
Smart meters and net metering (which California already has) essentially do that.  People are already selling PV electricity to the utility at afternoon peak prices and running their homes (and charging their cars) at night off-peak rates.  This is pure capitalist arbitrage, and the opposition of the two trolls proves that they aren't capitalists, they're corporatists.

@ EP:

"The trolls are both on the side of 19th-century technology."

How erudite can be those who bristle at opposing/challenging points of view and descend to name-calling in defense? "Trolls," the slur de jour of the Herkle geek - are merely self-reflective. Though we would not stoop to naming a "poet" as such.

Net metering entered the California market by legislation NOT the efforts of utility companies. Utility companies fought having to BUY energy from customers tooth and nail. Generating electricity on a residential basis strikes fear and loathing in the heart of the true "corporate" dweeb, because it strips him of monopoly.

Distributed energy generated by Residential Power Units, removes about one third of the utility's fiefdom. It does away with the need for centralized control of your TV, radio, air conditioner or toaster oven. It puts the power into the hands of the consumer - like having a well in your backyard.

Only those who oppose "power to the people" - i.e. clandestine operatives of big energy monopolies - would argue against it.

Yes, it took legislation to un-lock the monopoly to let the people be capitalist participants instead of socialist subjects.  All economic systems are human creations, though some work better than others (whether by design or by accident).

In the article has been discussed very limited number of smart meter functions. How about EV charging at any location and having specific EV account? I do no hear any options on being able to switch from one supplier to another or having two contracts in parallel. This would require unbundling network operations and supply.

“People are already selling PV electricity to the utility at afternoon peak prices and running their homes (and charging their cars) at night off-peak rates.”

E-P is again postulating a theory as if it is a relevant fact. I have been checking here (http://www.caiso.com/outlook/SystemStatus.html ) for over 10 years and see no evidence to support E-P’s claim.

Utilities provide electricity as a public service at a cost that is essentially free. It cost less than $1 per day per day to meet the needs of average Americans. There are energy pigs that run up their bills a gripe at the end of the month.

As far as RPU, how clever is that. My family saves $15 a day brewing our own coffee with very little capital cost. I have many years experience making electricity. I could make electricity at $ 0.50/kwh and sell it for $ 0.05/kwh.

E-P, sullenly, Jim, and Henry would all brag to their neighbors about saving 40 cents every hour (assuming 4 kw RPU) while breaking that evil monopoly. However, I just do not think that losing $1.80 an hour is all that smart.

Your electric utility is very safety conscious. If E-P was lose $1.80 an hour by reverse powering the grid, E-P has to follow the rules. E-P, sullenly, Jim, and Henry are clueless about safety. Therefore, your electric utility hires some lawyers who will draw up a contract holding you responsible for killing their linemen.

Human nature is a funny thing. I have 20 different choices for buying coffee. My choice of brewing it requires just a minimal amount of planning and no standing in line. Consumer groups have demanded that their electric utility provide them a choice. So how many actually have a RPU and are willing to brag about the merits by presenting data?

Zero, that is how many. However, many still make their own coffee, that is where the smart money is.

"All economic systems are human creations..."

Not entirely true. For millennia immortal gods have demanded payment of various sort from their mortal servants. The notion of barter and trade began long before Zinjanthropus man hunkered around.

Quoth the troll:

E-P is again postulating a theory as if it is a relevant fact. I have been checking here (http://www.caiso.com/outlook/SystemStatus.html ) for over 10 years and see no evidence to support E-P’s claim.
You wouldn't see it there.  You'd see it in places like Home Power Magazine (e.g. issue 113, page 16, and that's not the only example).
Utilities provide electricity as a public service at a cost that is essentially free.
Is that anything like "too cheap to meter"?

Yes E-P, essentially free is something like to cheap to meter. Very astute. For those of us who conserve, we must pay the cost of expensive 'smart' meters to collect from those who are energy pigs.

I did check out Home Power Magazine. Rarely have a seen a magazine devoted to consumerism. Who needs a million dollar house 5000 square foot house? Nice solar panels on the roof so you can tell how much they car about the environment.

My favorite, “Richmond saved money—roughly $1,000—by doing it himself.” After spending $12,000 can save $5.00 a week. Assuming no maintenance cost or value of money, that is a 48 year payback period.

So on one had you have utilities that provide a public service meeting the needs of the public and the other you have the RPU industry ripping off consumers.

Quoth the troll:

Yes E-P, essentially free is something like to cheap to meter.
Is that why Californians complain about high electric prices? that it's essentially free?  I don't quite see how to reconcile that.
For those of us who conserve, we must pay the cost of expensive 'smart' meters to collect from those who are energy pigs.
Why should anyone worry about being a pig or not, if electricity is "essentially free"?  Wouldn't that be like "breathing too much air"?

Do continue to expound, I find this utterly fascinating.

Great story, especially because a lot of organisations are looking at major prjects to save power and reduce their carbon footprint. Something as simple as energy-efficient lights often gets overlooked.
http://business-power.com.au/

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Green Car Congress © 2014 BioAge Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Home | BioAge Group