Getting Smarter in Sacramento
Steve Stackhouse-Kaelble (Dec/Jan 10)
In the electricity business, "smart metering" is seen as the way of the future. State-of-the-art smart meters provide businesses and homeowners with much more control over their power consumption, offering more detailed usage information and more options for improving efficiency and reducing costs.
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) installed some 50,000 smart meters to test out the technology, and has now decided to install them in all homes and businesses by the middle of 2010. Once that's done, users will be able to visit the SMUD website and check out their power usage from the day before, allowing them to make energy-saving changes quickly. Also, there will be no more need for onsite meter reading, which will take a lot of trucks off the road and therefore reduce pollution.
In the future, smart meters will be able to communicate with programmable devices such as air conditioners and other appliances, allowing users to see just how much their equipment is costing them to operate. And smart metering will increase system reliability, because the utility will be able to more accurately pinpoint outages so they can be fixed more quickly.