Re: It's Electric! Boogie, Woogie, Woogie.


Oh, and this graphic is also neat.

Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-10-10 10:08 AM
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But the first thing a smart grid will do, if we let it, is turn us into savvier consumers of electricity. We'll become aware of how much we're consuming and cut back, especially at moments of peak demand, when electricity costs most to produce. That will save us and the utilities money--and incidentally reduce pollution. In a way, we'll stop being mere passive consumers of electrons. In the 21st century we'll become active participants in the management of this vast and seemingly unknowable network that makes our civilization possible.

Maybe I'm a lazy fuck, but I do not want to actively participate in managing our vast and seemingly unknowable electric grid. Unless someone gives me a well paid job doing so. I just want it to work without my having to pay attention to it.

Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 07-10-10 10:59 AM
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Yes, to 2.

Although we did fit one of those electricity monitors, that monitors in real time how much electricity you are using, and it was fairly interesting to do so. It told me a fair bit about which appliances were using a lot of power in our household and which weren't, and in some cases the results were a surprise.

Hi-fi stuff on standby? Essentially zero. Ditto various other audio-visual appliances that are on standby when not being used. PC? Really surprisingly little. Trendy little spotlights in the kitchen and living area? More than the TV, PC and stereo combined.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-10-10 11:12 AM
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This is really interesting. Reading about infrastructure is always fun.

It appears that a number of these things have already been implemented in California with Pacific Gas & Electric. They are largely switching to meters which do not need to be read by a human, which has created a lot of pushback in people insisting that their rates got higher immediately after the switch. Having been the victim of an incompetent meter reading that ended up in a $1500 bill (which was later reduced to normal, of course), I can't say I join in their complaints. They've also been pushing their SmartMeter plan, which does exactly what the last snippet describes, as far as I understand. They also have a less technical version of this in the summer, where you get a discount on your bill if you agree to comply with regulating your own energy usage on very hot days (they notify you), thus, in the words of the website, preventing "the need to purchase "dirty" power from inefficient power plants that can be damaging to the environment."

(Apologies if this is all information in the linked post; I haven't read it just yet.)

Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-10-10 11:58 AM
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It's been years since I had a meter read by a human, here in MA; they're all outfitted with small radios that can be read by a truck driving around. Not quite as good as being connected to a real data network, but not bad, either.

Peak load management is a big deal. While cranking up ACs a couple of degrees may feel like a bit of an affront, it's much easier to imagine refrigerators or central ACs that can use such a signal to bank some extra cold (in a brine or glycol loop, say) when power is more plentiful, and turn off their compressors and use that brine when power is more in demand. There are some commercial cold-storage warehouses that already do things like this, though more on a night-day cycle, and the electric company makes it worth their while to use less power during the daytime peak.

Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07-10-10 12:34 PM
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Wow, superconductors:

A proposed project called the Tres Amigas Superstation would allow Texas wind--and Arizona sun--to supply Chicago or Los Angeles. Near Clovis, New Mexico, where the three interconnections already nearly touch, they would be joined together by a loop of five-gigawatt-capacity superconducting cable.

Posted by: YK | Link to this comment | 07-10-10 4:11 PM
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My pops is a utility system planning engineer. Whenever I ask him, "Why don't we have this? Or why don't we have that?", he'll note that no one wants their rates raised.

That's not a very satisfying answer.

Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 07-10-10 4:43 PM
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Apparently some of that smart grid stuff was in operation in N Va earlier this week. Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative in Manassas activated its load-management system, which turns off electric water heaters and cycles the air conditioners of about 46,500 subscribers.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-10-10 7:20 PM
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The US doesn't have off-peak electricity plans already? As early as the eighties most of my parent's clothes washing was done at night to save money, as electricity after 8 o'clock was cheaper.

Smart meters are being introduced here as well, but people are somewhat paranoid about having somebody know how much power you're using in real time.

Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 07-11-10 4:18 AM
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9: Don't be Euro-smug, Martin; you guys get a soccer fútbol champ today.

Did you read the article? It's a total patchwork in the US, but there are some examples of off-peak, etc. Not nearly enough, to be sure.

Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 07-11-10 4:34 AM
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