In my dreams I would be able to control my energy consumption by knowing how much energy I am using at any given time. You could easily tell your kids or your husband “we need to use less electricity this week because we have gone over our budgeted limit.” From a financial and an environmental perspective it would be great to have this kind of information at hand. Arguably you can say you do if you know how to read your meter in your house and know how much the cost of the energy is and the cost of delivery? To complicated to be useful right now if you ask me. It would be great if there was just a monitor in my house that could tell me everything I need to know.
If I take my dream a step further (hit the snooze button) and I would be able to program my house, to do all the energy efficent things I need it to do. Basically, a device that will think green for me. Well there is a company that is doing that. Here is an article I came across today that details the dream plan I had:
Xcel Energy, the leading provider of wind energy in the United States has just announcedthat it plans on building the US’s first fully integrated Smart Grid in Boulder, Colorado. The idea behind a smart grid is to integrate high-speed communication technologies with the electric grid, allowing for real-time, two-way communication between the utility, the consumer, and throughout the distribution grid.
This is a logical yet giant step forward since existing grids really offer little in the way of information to either their own relay stations or the end user. With the new system customers can have programmable control devices installed in their homes, allowing them to automate home energy use and the integration of infrastructure will “support easily dispatched distributed generation technologies (such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid technology; battery systems; wind turbines; and solar panels).” Customers will also have information at their fingertips, seeing what the cost of electricity is at any given time, and being able to choose the actual source of their electricity, be it from natural gas, coal, or renewable sources.
From a network perspective, the grid will be able to do some pretty impressive stuff. They envision a “self-healing” grid that will divert power automatically if a transformer or line goes down, ensuring that all areas of the grid are always provided with uninterrupted service. If lines freeze in cold weather, stations will have the capability of increasing the power through those individual lines, creating great electrical resistance and thus warm them, melting the ice. This great video on their site does a great job of explaining in detail the inner workings of the system, definitely worth watching.
I hope that this works in Boulder and becomes something that we can all benefit from in the near future.