Posted on | September 10, 2013 | 1 comment
(Editor’s note: In this guest essay, Patty Durand, Executive Director for the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, takes issue with the documentary, Take Back Your Power. Durand contends that the film conveys misinformation about smart grid and smart meters.)
Consumers, at the moment, have very little data about their electricity usage. However, we live in a digitized world. And the digitization of energy-usage data means more information can be made available to consumers.
This is already under way. The ongoing transformation of our electrical system to a smarter grid overlays information technology onto our legacy electricity infrastructure. This enables a two-way flow of information about energy usage and delivery.
Benefits include the potential to decrease carbon emissions as much as 9 percent and reduce the average household electric bill as much as $500 a year. Additionally, renewable energy resources, including wind and solar power, can be more easily brought onboard.
Digital meters – electric meters that enable two-way communication between consumers and their utility – are a critical element.
With access to data about how they use electricity, consumers are better equipped to control their energy consumption and reduce bill surprises. At the same time, a utility can make better decisions about how they produce and dispatch electricity and can reduce power outages. This introduces efficiency into a system that has a lot of room to improve.
Research shows that health and privacy concerns raised by groups opposed to the digital meters are unfounded.
Healthwise, the RF, or radio frequency, emissions emitted by digital meters is well below the limits set by Federal Communications Commission and is 10 times below levels produced by other common household devices like cell phones, garage door openers, satellite TVs and TV remotes.
With regards to privacy, cybersecurity is just as important to utilities as it is to any institution. Efforts to protect digital data has increased in importance for the banking, health care and credit cards industries. There has never been a breach of a consumer’s energy data and utilities are working hard to make sure it stays that way.
Those who oppose digital meters may not realize their position actually gives away consumer empowerment to manage their electric bill and know details about their usage and keeps it where it doesn’t belong: just in the hands of the utility.
Smart grids allow our nation to improve its aging electrical infrastructure. We will have fewer outages, increase use of renewable energy resources, and empower consumers with information.
To learn more about the benefits of a smart grid, we encourage readers to visit www.whatissmartgrid.org.