Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

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  • SolarJohnSolarJohn Solar Expert Posts: 202 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    I know this is the "Skeptics Corner", but I'm really looking forward to having a "Smart Meter", and "Smart Appliances". I'm currently on a time-of-use plan, and my electric bill has dropped significantly since enrolling in that program. However, unless I check on the Internet, I don't know what my rate is from one hour to the next. Once I get a smart meter, I'll also get a display that will provide that information. Additionally, I will look for appliances that allow me to override the "Smart Settings", in the event that I choose to do so. I'll add to my solar panel array, and avoid grid-supplied power when prices spike at peak demand. Typically, that has been mid-day, when my solar panel output is also at its peak. A large battery array would also be beneficial in this scenario, since I could charge it in the very early morning hours when electric rates are low, and use that stored energy during the day when rates are high. It works, I've already done it. Smart meter technology should also provide technology that will let me automate and optimize the process. I'll be driving a rechargable electric car someday, so I say "bring it on!"
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    İ have a meter that monitors 4 different rate periods (only 3 register) though we are on a flat rate plan. Makes it convenient to read the meter and try to figure out where it all goes anyway.

    Fortunately we have the flat rate as it would only get more expensive unless you can stop something at the higher rate times.

    To take advantage of a time of use rate you need to be able to shift loads to low cost periods. OK, easy to operate the well pump at night and the pool pump mainly at night but the other major loads are the dryer and cooking. My wife indicated she is not interested in cooking at midnight and folding clothes at that time is out as well.

    As the heat pump is not often operated for either heating or cooling it doesn't make much difference. The computers we use when we want. The TV + system operates when we want.
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,348 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    I have had a smart meter for about a year since our Solar was installed and a TED on the system for a couple months. We have a 10.4 kWh solar system and need to run credit into the grid now to help carry our Phoenix AC load in the peak cooling season. Smart meter has made all of this possible.

    So far the TED data for the end of month surplus is a bit optimistic but am pretty satisfied overall. Still tweaking all the data settings in the TED configs and this may have skewed our last months data.

    My TOU is 9AM - 9PM Monday through Friday, 0.0154 per kWh with an off peak all other times at 0.0556 per kWh. Last month we paid nothing for on peak generation and $5.36 for off peak. Plus we got to credit our account of 833 kWh. Our total bill was $23.80 after fees and taxes.

    From our billing statement:
    Net electricity
    On-peak electricity from XXX, in kWh 100
    Minus on-peak electricity credited, in kWh 833
    Minus last month's on-peak kWh credit 923
    Net on-peak electricity, in kWh -1656

    Off-peak electricity from XXX, in kWh 589
    Minus off-peak electricity credited, in kWh 326
    Minus last month's off-peak kWh credit 0
    Net off-peak electricity, in kWh 263

    Anything that can allow me to add this much value to the house for a small out of pocket overall is well worth it. Guess what, it also improves the quality of my life, in years previous we did extraordinary things to control our AC usage and last summer the thermostats remained a fix comfortable temp and the bills were hugely reduced. This year we will head into the summer months with a credit in account and even better results on the bill. All because the smart meter can have all this data included.

    Phoenix really needs this technology, the summer peak load requires expensive peak generating capacity to cope with the load.
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    Yours is a location where there can be benefit to solar PV - good insolation and an A/C requirement plus cooperative electric billing.

    Though you really just need the meter to effectively run backward to pile up credits.
    A 'smart meter' is a different thing İ believe.
  • machinemanmachineman Solar Expert Posts: 129 ✭✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    Got my "Smart Meter" notice from PG&E last week. Says they will install it within the next few weeks. Will post back if my bill goes up....

    San Jose, CA

    Off Grid Cabin, 24V 440ah 6V GC battery bank, Xantrex MPPT60-150 CC, Magnum MS4024 inverter-charger, >1200w Solar bank

  • silent wolfsilent wolf Solar Expert Posts: 92 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    I got one in my neighborhood in Tucson. I didn't see any raises on the bill at all except a installation fee of $40. Got mine around last January. Didn't see any difference in my bill at all.
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    Are you guys who don't see a difference in your bill on 'time of use' or 'flat rate' billing.

    A smart meter will have the ability to control or limit consumption at critical times. What İ have heard of so far really only allow the utility to charge different rates for different periods.

    The smart part is yet to come.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    As others have accurately pointed out, sometimes load shifting isn't possible or convenient. Not every electrical use can be done at a lower rate hour; it just isn't feasible. And some of the biggest power users are those that can't be changed. You're not going to cook dinner at midnight, the furnace/AC has to come on when needed, as do refrigerators/freezers.

    So that brings us to the ultimate load-shifting technology: inverters and whonking big battery banks! :p
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,348 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...
    russ wrote: »
    Yours is a location where there can be benefit to solar PV - good insolation and an A/C requirement plus cooperative electric billing.

    Though you really just need the meter to effectively run backward to pile up credits.
    A 'smart meter' is a different thing İ believe.


    Well the TOU rates are a big driver and a "smarter" meter is required to help control your costs. I suspect many of the other features described here may be in that meter as well.

    If I spin the meter backward enough @ my high TOU rate early in the year, my known high summer load time, mid afternoon, June, July, August will covered. I love the extremely low rate of my off peak, only $0.05565 a kWh. With a bit of monitoring and some creative thermostat programming I suspect my summer bills will be well below $100 a month, mostly off peak purchase. Before this setup they could go as high as $650 a month.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,992 admin
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...
    russ wrote: »
    Are you guys who don't see a difference in your bill on 'time of use' or 'flat rate' billing.

    A smart meter will have the ability to control or limit consumption at critical times. What İ have heard of so far really only allow the utility to charge different rates for different periods.

    The smart part is yet to come.
    Smart Meters do not change the current billing/rate plans. So, ideally, just replacing the meter will not change the billing/electrical usage.

    The problem is that many people have been complaining that their electrical bills have doubled, or more, since installing a Smart Meter.

    None of the articles go into any details at all--such as the amount of kWhrs per Month change the folks are seeing (is it increased usage or increased billing rates, or a combination of the two).

    And, at least from what I have seen in the news so far (which I don't trust either)--there is only one confirmed instance of a (~1/2 dozen total meters) miss-programmed meters being supplied by a utility (programmed with 2x current shunt setting). And possibly one remote miss-read by a meter that did not clear from a monthly bill (one 1 hour period was recorded as 10-100x actual possible usage--utility said the next read would "fix" the error--it did not).

    Is it possible that some Smart Meters are not 100% accurate (internal design flaw) and/or the wireless network has flaws (programming, security, etc.).

    It is also possible that some of the older utility meters are no longer accurate and where undercharging. But, as of this point--I have not seen any evidence of a systematic Smart Meter problem (not to say it does not exist--and there have been swap-outs of early meter brands/models by utilities for some reason).

    Regarding the ability of Smart Meters to "control/limit" power--At least the meters I have seen today--there is no "control" by the utility other than the ability to turn power off to the whole home (e.g., non-payment of electrical bill).

    There is probably a data link available from the meter (or even wireless signaling from the utility wireless networks) that can be connected to "smart relays" or smart appliances. We can do that today--Our utility will give you $50 to install a Radio Controlled relay on our Air Conditioner (if I had one ;)) to cut power use by 50% during periods of heavy power use (to limit local blackouts).

    We do have an option to go with a Smart Billing plan that reduces power costs by 1-2 cents per kWH (10-12 cents per kWhr for base tier billing upwards of $0.40 per kWhr for heavy usage tiers) and charge ~20 afternoons a year at $0.60 to $0.75 per kWhr (residential/commercial) for weekday afternoon "energy alerts".

    Eventually, the plan is to go with near real time pricing... Basically you would know the hourly kWhr charges 24 hours in advance.

    Anyone want to plan their home and business life 1 day in advance based on power rates (we will take a 1 day vacation tomorrow due to hot weather / AC costs--or a business will utdown tomorrow afternoon--power company driven 1/2 day lay offs?)...

    I do not look forward to that future... Probably after a few months--everyone will just toss the penalty charges into high cost of work and living in California--and start making plans to move to Arizona and Nevada where it is more sane.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,573 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    Should have set up a pool to see the first big failure of the Smart Meters

    --

    PG&E details technical problems with SmartMeters, Apr 2010
    http://www.siliconvalley.com/news/ci_14963541

    After months of denying any technical problems with its SmartMeter program, PG&E publicly detailed a range of glitches Monday affecting tens of thousands of the digital meters. But the San Francisco-based utility said it had found just eight meters that inaccurately reported a customer's energy use, despite thousands of complaints from customers who say the new meters have overcharged them. The utility would not say how many of the 5.5 million meters installed so far have been tested for accuracy after installation.

    PG&E detailed 43,376 cases in which the meters were involved in other kinds of problems. It said 23,000 meters were installed improperly, 11,376 failed to retain consumer usage information.
    ......
    "Last fall, when we said 'the meters work,' we meant it. They do. But that doesn't mean that every single one of them works 100 percent of the time."
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    Well, British Columbia has just passed legislation mandating smart meters (along with several other big mistakes in energy policy). This comes right on the heals of the recent rate hike. I only wish I could afford to invest in full off-grid for the new house before he HST comes into effect and removes the one, small tax advantage to buying solar equipment here.

    We're doomed. :cry:
  • HorusHorus Registered Users Posts: 24
    Smart Meters Not so Smart

    Smart Meters are supposed believed to be a less costly alternative to traditional interval or time-of-use meters billing customers by how much is consumed and at what time of day will force consumers to adjust their consumption habits to be more responsive to market prices. It’s also believed billing customers by how much is consumed and at what time of day will force consumers to adjust their consumption habits to be more responsive to market prices. Well maybe not. Smart Meter technology has been touted as a solution to high energy prices, peak demand abatement , and electricity shortage avoidance, but some recent rate disputes involving recipients of the smart meter technology have put the ‘savings’ promise into question.

    http://envirogy.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/a-smart-meter-for-your-troubles/
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Smart Meters Not so Smart

    There's already quite a long and involved discussion of Smart Meters on the forum here:
    http://forum.solar-electric.com/showthread.php?t=4942

    Let's not start another one, okay? :D
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,992 admin
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    Thank you for the link Marc... Easy to move. :D

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,992 admin
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...

    From the San Francisco paper:

    SmartMeter customers, check your bill
    When complaints about the meters surfaced last year, the company responded by blaming the soaring bills on hot weather and a change in electricity rates. But in recent weeks, San Francisco's PG&E has admitted finding problems in more than 43,300 meters, out of the 5.7 million that have been installed. The company has criticized its own initial response to the controversy and promised to do better, while insisting that more than 99 percent of the devices installed appear to be working perfectly.
    ...
    But they do reveal interesting twists in the program. In March, for example, one of the companies that makes SmartMeter components - Silver Spring Networks - found a problem with a component that helps the devices communicate over a computer network. PG&E placed a hold on installing 290,000 of the meters that could be affected by the problem.

    In another instance, the company returned 117,000 meters - under warranty - to one of the device manufacturers, after the manufacturer found that some of the meters weren't storing or sending their data properly.
    You are supposed to be able to download the report from this link:

    www.pge.com/SmartMeterCPUCreports (PDF, 25 MB).

    But it chokes Firefox for me if I click directly on the link... (not a pdf or corrupt)

    -Bill

    PS: If I right click and save the file (download) to my computer--I can then open the PDF file.
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,573 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Grid of the Future: Smart Meters...
    BB. wrote: »
    From the San Francisco paper:

    SmartMeter customers, check your bill

    You are supposed to be able to download the report from this link:

    www.pge.com/SmartMeterCPUCreports (PDF, 25 MB).

    But it chokes Firefox for me if I click directly on the link... (not a pdf or corrupt)

    -Bill

    PS: If I right click and save the file (download) to my computer--I can then open the PDF file.

    Holy Cow - a 25MB PDF ! but firefox seems just fine with it, after it finally loads - 4 min @ 150k dl speed.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

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