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Smart Grid Matters

Blogging On Grid Modernization

December 28
Survey Shows Transmission and Distribution Investment Surpasses $30 Billion in 2011

By Chris Eisenbrey, Director, Business Information, Edison Electric Institute

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) released a new survey showing that shareholder-owned electric utilities and stand-alone transmission companies invested a record $30.3 billion in the nation's transmission and distribution infrastructure in 2011.

The latest EEI Annual Property & Plant Capital Investment Survey revealed that the industry’s capital expenditures on transmission totaled $11.1 billion in 2011—an 8.4-percent increase over the $10.2 billion that the industry invested in 2010. The increase was due in large part to replacing and upgrading existing transmission lines, developing new lines to meet electricity load growth in certain parts of the country, and interconnecting new sources of generation onto the grid.
 
In addition, the survey found that the industry invested 13 percent more on electric distribution infrastructure in 2011 than the $16.9 billion it invested in 2010, for a total of $19.1 billion. The increased capital expenditures helped utilities ramp up the development of automated meter infrastructure (AMI) and other smart grid activities related to the distribution system. The need to repair or replace lines damaged by severe weather events in 2011 also led to increased distribution investment. Since the beginning of 2000, the industry has invested $237 billion in the nation’s distribution system.

Learn more here.

October 04
EEI President Tom Kuhn Highlights Consumer Benefits of Smart Meters at GridWeek 2012

By Chris Eisenbrey, Director, Business Information, Edison Electric Institute

During GridWeek 2012, an annual conference on the modernization of the power grid, Edison Electric Institute (EEI) President Tom Kuhn addressed the opening panel discussion of industry experts on the benefits of smart meters.
 
“The smart meter, the building block of a smarter grid, will open the door to a wide array of benefits for our customers, including better home energy management, improvements in service restoration following outages, and new products and services.  Grid modernization will enable us to function more efficiently and deliver better service to our customers,” Kuhn said.
 
“The electric utility industry has launched a multi-year, multi-billion dollar effort to modernize the nation’s power grid. We are laying the groundwork that likely will spur the same kind of advances in electric technologies that we have seen in information and telecommunication technologies,” he continued.
 
Utilities are providing their customers with custom smart grid apps that can provide immediate information on energy usage and tips to encourage them to save energy. Utilities also are leading the charge on the Green Button initiative.
 
“In the not-too-distant future,” Kuhn said, “new innovations may revolutionize the way we think about electricity. I believe that there will be a lot of big ideas along the lines of the iPad. No one really knew what they were missing until they started using it. And, now, for many people, the iPad or other tablets are indispensable.”
 
Kuhn added that the industry must encourage regulators, at both the federal and state levels, to provide the flexibility and support needed to make grid modernization workable.

August 03
Research Finds Americans Becoming More Familiar with the Smart Grid

By Wally Mealiea, Manager, Customer Research & Advertising, Edison Electric Institute

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) regularly conducts public opinion surveys to gauge consumer attitudes, opinion, and awareness as they relate to major energy issues. Highlights from our Quarter 2 2012 survey show that awareness of the smart grid and smart meters continues to grow. In fact, 45 percent of Americans have now heard the term "smart grid."  Among those who have heard the term, 53 percent say they have a basic or complete understanding of what it is and how it would work.

In addition, 46 percent of those surveyed report that they have heard the term "smart meters"—an increase from 37 percent one year ago.  Of those who said they are familiar with smart meters, 67 percent claim some level of understanding.

As the smart grid develops, the electric power industry will continue to help educate customers about its benefits. The resources on this site—including the FAQs, smart meter map, and customer testimonials—are a great start for customers to start learning the basics. For more information on customer research, please contact me at wmealiea@eei.org.

July 30
EDF Touts Benefits of Smart Meters and Smart Grid

By Chris Eisenbrey, Director, Business Information, Edison Electric Institute

In a recent post on the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF's) Energy Exchange blog, Cassandra Brunette stresses the importance of smart meters in creating an efficient and environmentally friendly smart grid.  Brunette is a Research Associate in EDF’s Office of Chief Scientist.

She writes, "A well-designed smart grid is critical to the clean energy revolution we need – enabling significantly greater use of clean, renewable, domestic energy resources and improved air quality …  Smart meters are a key component of the smart grid."

Brunette addresses recent concerns by some activist groups about the potential health effects of exposure to radio frequency (RF) produced by smart meters. Her research found that people are exposed to RF from a variety of sources every day, including cell phones, microwaves, and wireless internet routers.  She notes that "a cell phone call exposes a person to hundreds of times more RFs than a transmitting smart meter."

Brunette also points out that "EDF is one of many environmental organizations strongly advocating for grid modernization…"

Read the full blog post here, which includes additional resources and information on the benefits of the smart grid.

June 27
Survey Finds Consumers Favor Smart Grid Technology

By Chris Eisenbrey, Director, Business Information, Edison Electric Institute

Renewgridmag.com recently discussed a survey released from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) that found “although many consumers are not aware of Smart Grid technology, they do embrace it once they receive more information about it.”

Renew Grid writes, “Many respondents had not heard the term ‘Smart Grid,’ while those who were familiar with the term said they did not know much about it.”  Participants who knew about Smart Grid associated it “with the development of new technologies to improve reliability, efficiency, billing accuracy and energy management.”

After researchers provided basic information about the smart grid and smart meters, “participants generally described their overall feelings towards the new technologies as favorable or very favorable.”  Some participants said they would need more information before expressing an opinion and others voiced their concern over the cost of grid modernization.

Read more about the survey here then tell us what you think about smart grid technology.

June 22
Guest Blog: New Report Finds Growing Smart Meter Installations Open Door for More Benefits

By Adam Cooper, Research Manager, Institute for Electric Efficiency

Electric utilities are making steady progress in upgrading their customers' analog electric meters with digital smart meters, according to our latest report, "Utility-Scale Smart Meter Deployments, Plans, and Proposals, May 2012". As of May 2012, we found that nearly 36 million smart meters had been installed in the United States, equivalent to one-in-three households.  This is up from about one-in-four households in September 2011. By the end of this year, we predict that 22 electric utilities in 16 states will have smart meters installed system-wide.  By mid-decade, we project that 65 million smart meters will be installed, equivalent to more than half of the households in the country.

Check out the updated smart meter map on this site to see what's happening in your area.

To download a copy of the IEE report that shows utility-scale smart meter deployments by state and by utility, please visit IEE's Web site.

For more information, please contact me at acooper@edisonfoundation.net or 202-508-5551. ​

 

 
June 20
IEE’s Lisa Wood on the Smart Grid and the Future of the Electric Power Industry

By Chris Eisenbrey, Director, Business Information, Edison Electric Institute

Jesse Berst, founder of SmartGridNews.com, had a chance to interview Lisa Wood, Executive Director of the Institute for Electric Efficiency, on the state of the electric utility industry following the Powering the People 2.0 Conference in Washington, D.C.

"The purpose of this conference… is to really bring together the utility industry and technology partners," said Wood.  "To talk about new things that the industry’s doing with companies outside the utility industry.  To really move forward change in the electric power sector."

One of the main topics at the conference was the smart grid and the need for the utility industry to move "a new technology from the beginning stages of [research and development] out through the demonstration and commercialization process."

Wood said the industry is focused on engaging customers as smart grid technology is integrated into current electric system. Check out the full interview on Smartgridnews.com.

May 17
DOE Awards Grant for Smart Grid EV Charging System

By Chris Eisenbrey, Director, Business Information, Edison Electric Institute

Here’s some good news on the alternative-fueled vehicle front. HybridCars.com reports that the Department of Energy has awarded Delta Products Corporation a $1.9 million grant “for the development and demonstration of a residential electric vehicle charging system with smart grid communication capabilities.” Delta says that customers will ultimately benefit from this smart-charging system by using off-peak electricity rates to charge their electric vehicles.

The smart grid also will help make PEVs more practical for their owners by giving drivers convenient options to recharge—and to pay for their fuel—both at home and on the road. In the future, smart grid technology will allow you to plug in to a local charging station and automatically be billed to your electric company. Learn more here.

April 19
The Smart Grid and Electric Transportation

By Chris Eisenbrey, Director, Business Information, Edison Electric Institute

The power of electric transportation was on display at yesterday’s POLITICO Pro Transportation + Infrastructure event in Washington, D.C. The event, with a keynote address by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, brought policymakers together to discuss emerging transportation and infrastructure issues. The Edison Electric Institute highlighted how electricity is the transportation fuel of the future, by showcasing a Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius, and smart grid technology.

Susan Story, President and CEO of Southern Company Services, kicked off the event by outlining the benefits of electric transportation for consumers, the environment, and for electric companies. Ms. Story noted that the smart grid has an important role in the future of electric transportation. And, as we add more smart technology to the grid, electric vehicles can help electric companies store energy to use during times of peak demand.

Check out video highlights from the event on POLITICO.​

April 12
Smart Grid Spending Projected to Increase Through 2015

By Chris Eisenbrey, Director, Business Information, Edison Electric Institute 

A new report from IDC Energy Insights projects global smart grid spending will reach nearly $46.4 billion in 2015. That’s an increase of more than 17 percent from 2010 levels. The report shows the Asia/Pacific region with greatest amount of growth over the 2010-2015 time period.  In North America, investment in advanced metering infrastructure was the top priority for companies in 2011. You can learn more about the report here

In the United States, we know that shareholder-owned electric companies continue to make significant investments in the smart grid, too. Check out this smart grid update (PDF) to learn more.

What part of the smart grid do you think should be the top priority for investment going forward?

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