Today in a webinar presented by eMeter called 2012: The Year That Smart Grid 2.0 Becomes a Reality, Chris King and Larsh Johnson discussed why now is the time for the benefits of smart grid to really begin being realized. Essentially, the transition to Smart Grid 2.0 means that the focus will shift from the actual deployment of hardware such as smart meters, which capture energy use data, to a focus on the analysis and utilization of the data for programs such as customer engagement, demand response, and energy efficiency.
Chris King began the presentation by summarizing the benefits of the transition to smart grid 2.0, explaining that this will be the year that utilities go from focusing on hardware deployment and build out to focusing on the features and values that everyone has been expecting from smart grid, such as new pricing options, customer engagement programs, analytics, and integrating renewables.
As far as new pricing options are concerned, King mentioned a variety of benefits for both utilities and customers. Dynamic pricing will allow for prices to change in response to the grid being either over or under loaded, a benefit that regulators around the world are interested in and that has been a major motivation for smart meter deployment. Dynamic pricing will allow utilities to better manage the load on the grid, reducing the need to rely on peak generation facilities that are expensive to build and operate.
Dynamic pricing will also benefit consumers by allowing them to perform more energy-intensive activities such as charging an electric car during time periods when the grid is under loaded and the price of electricity is lower. In a recent dynamic pricing program mentioned during the webinar, customer satisfaction was very high, with 90% of participants saying they would recommend the program to their neighbors.
One example of dynamic pricing is in Ontario where it has been mandated, with San Diego also planning to launch a large peak time rebate program this year. Another pricing option that was mentioned is pre-payment, which is popular in a number of countries including the UK and South Africa, and typically results in an average of 12% reduction in energy use.
In addition to new pricing options, customer engagement in energy use is another major benefit of smart grid 2.0 that was described in the webinar. As an example of customer engagement, King mentioned the federal Green Button initiative as a promising program that will allow customers to upload their energy use data into a variety of third party applications to help them better understand and manage their consumption. The system is already live in California, with over 20 new utilities committed to implement the program this spring.
Towards the conclusion of the presentation, the speakers emphasized the importance of rapidly engaging the customer as soon as or even before smart meters are installed, capturing their attention and allowing them to realize the benefits immediately to reduce questions and concerns about the value of the smart grid.
To learn more about Smart Grid 2.0 and other topics, check out these archived webinars from eMeter.