About a decade ago, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) distributed millions of dollars to smart grid projects around the country, with smart meters, or advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployments, getting the biggest share. Now, The Edison Foundation estimates there are more than 100 million advanced meters, covering more than 70 percent of all U.S. households. There are many benefits to advanced meters and associated infrastructure. However, energy users don’t always see those benefits directly. ACEEE’s “Leveraging Advanced Metering Infrastructure to Save Energy” identifies some of the behind-the-scenes benefits from AMI, as well as a handful of use cases for customer programs. In particular, behavior-based feedback and near real-time feedback to customers.
Bringing it to today, we see three major trends related to utilities, customers, and demand side management:
- Increased deployment of intermittent renewable energy
- Efficient lighting becoming the standard
- Continued innovation with data and customer engagement
Arguably, increased deployment of intermittent renewable energy makes demand side management, particularly time-targeted load shifting and curtailment, more important for utility operations, not just regulatory compliance.
Over the past five years, behavior-based feedback has helped utilities fill some of the gaps in their demand side management programs that are largely from efficient lighting becoming the standard. But, near real-time feedback to customers hasn’t gained as much traction…yet.
Fortunately, continued innovation in data and customer engagement makes near real-time feedback to customers viable today. The clincher is scalable, cost-effective solutions to provide energy users with real-time energy data and relevant feedback based on that data.
- Scalable meaning: Real-time energy monitoring is accessible for utilities with AMI, as well as AMR, with simple self-installation/connection by consumers.
- Relevant meaning: Displaying nearly instantaneous energy insights to ensure important demand management opportunities aren’t lost, anomaly detection for customer comfort and convenience, plus individual and community feedback to put things into perspective for non-energy experts.
At the end of the day, the mission of many utilities is to provide safe, reliable, and affordable energy. At the same time consumers want comfort, convenience, and control. Real-time energy insights bring both together for shared savings and reliability.