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  1. #1

    Investing in the "Smart Grid" is it worth it?

    I work for an energy management company based out of the SF Bay Area. We follow closely what many players are doing when it comes to responsible energy management, strategy, and markets. We all have many gripes when it comes to what is trendy in our market... example keywords used just sell jobs (demand response, smart grid, and so on). As of lately the "Smart Grid" has been frequently kicked around and some of our high profile clients have questions that I just cant answer because there is just no data out there or i cant find it !!. So here it is.

    What are the devices (Smart Meters and i know there are many) own consumption? Old meters were around 1 Watt.

    What about the consumption RF towers that will be required to transmit data?

    How many towers will be required in a square mile?

    There have been complaints of a 30% increase in billing. Has anyone who has a new meter experienced this? If so any info on the cause?

    If reducing the our footprint is the overall goal why are we not investing in the actual electrical delivery infrastructure? I mean we loose a more than half just because of transformer loss...

    I have many more questions but I leave this just to get the conversation started..

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    California
    Posts
    311
    Nobody else is really sure what it means. Send Al Gore $$ and he'll stamp your site green. I think it's just political speak for the no growth flat earthers.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    9,564
    Less towers than you think-

    Not all meters are using RF. There are many companies doing powerline meter communication.

    PG&E is using faulty meters.... or at least tech that wasn't as good as they thought it was. OOOps is the best description for that.

    To me Smart Grid is for the power companies. Otherwise, why wouldn't you simply invest the money to make buildings simply consume less?

    No- they want to monitor, manage and switch your power to their benefit and the government is giving them billions to play with this.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    458
    Agreed. It's for the power companies and the millionaires (soon to be billionares) like Al Gore.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/wash...llionaire.html

    Seems to me that conpiracy buffs could make a case for the power company ability to shut everyone off at government order, even tho thats possible nw.
    In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress. John Adams

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. H. L. Mencken

    "Life's tough......It's even tougher if you're stupid."
    -John Wayne

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    12,077
    not sure if this is my place. I am our companies controls EMS guy, when I am not busy being a service guy. We do commercial refrigeration, predominately supermarkets. And the KW requirement for an average size store is large. Capital L.

    And believe me. This whole energy thing is a hot issue now for most other people and facilities but for the supermarket world, the approach has been constant and demanding for years, and as the solid dependable technologies prove themselves, the industry clamors for it. Looking back just my 13 years now in this business, it's just incredible where it was when I started to now.

    Huge now is light dimming, with ambient light being brought in, anti condensate door heat cycling along with very tight Dew point space control, frequency drive on any and all motors with very tight control, modulating expansion valves combining with modulating epr valves it goes on and on. High efficient coil designs.

    Back a few years ago it was heat reclaim for Dehumid reheat. Maybe some contactors for case lighting.

    A new store going in today is twice as efficient as a new store just five years ago.

    I am right now doing a store remodel where we are gutting and upgrading the control system. HVAC, complete refrigeration, lighting.

    A new generator is being installed to handle the bulk of the load in a power out. This required us to do CT's at the switchgear to measure consumption under load and shed if we reach the generator output. Under sizing the generator by about 50 KW of design load peak afforded the owner to redo his entire existing and antiquated refrigeration and HVAC control system as opposed to buying a generator which could carry the entire load of the store on a design load day. Like 100 degrees at 1 pm on a Friday before 4rth of July where you might reach the climax power demand.

    But the other thing is because this will now be in there, we can accurately measure consumption under normal power, and depending on what the owner wishes to do now that he has this capability, we can shed load on a design load peak and possibly cut a better deal with the utility.

    So that is the rage right now. Lots of inquiry. It's been fun. I have learned a lot in the last couple years and really looking forward the next few years of doing just this kind of stuff if I am lucky.

    What's very cool is not taking a new store and using all the gadgets of technology, but rather applying this new technology to existing systems. And there is a huge market. Huge Market for that. But the customer wants it done on performance basis. You have to sell it with the idea he/she will get there ROI. That can be a tricky road to take. But I will tell ya. The opportunity is so fantastically huge out there on existing supermarkets. You just got to know what the hell your doing and be able to absolutely deliver the ROI. It's a risk for most stores to take. But then again, the technology is becoming more afforadble. The real bones like VFD.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Dry as a bone Tucson
    Posts
    4,344

    pay your way

    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Smith View Post
    I work for an energy management company based out of the SF Bay Area. We follow closely what many players are doing when it comes to responsible energy management, strategy, and markets. We all have many gripes when it comes to what is trendy in our market... example keywords used just sell jobs (demand response, smart grid, and so on). As of lately the "Smart Grid" has been frequently kicked around and some of our high profile clients have questions that I just cant answer because there is just no data out there or i cant find it !!. So here it is.

    What are the devices (Smart Meters and i know there are many) own consumption? Old meters were around 1 Watt.

    What about the consumption RF towers that will be required to transmit data?

    How many towers will be required in a square mile?

    There have been complaints of a 30% increase in billing. Has anyone who has a new meter experienced this? If so any info on the cause?

    If reducing the our footprint is the overall goal why are we not investing in the actual electrical delivery infrastructure? I mean we loose a more than half just because of transformer loss...

    I have many more questions but I leave this just to get the conversation started..

    Am doing a remodel in a lab that is getting this set-up.It will track usage at every outlet at every workstation.
    Some Talk, Some Do
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    141
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Smith View Post
    I work for an energy management company based out of the SF Bay Area. We follow closely what many players are doing when it comes to responsible energy management, strategy, and markets. We all have many gripes when it comes to what is trendy in our market... example keywords used just sell jobs (demand response, smart grid, and so on). As of lately the "Smart Grid" has been frequently kicked around and some of our high profile clients have questions that I just cant answer because there is just no data out there or i cant find it !!. So here it is.

    What are the devices (Smart Meters and i know there are many) own consumption? Old meters were around 1 Watt.

    What about the consumption RF towers that will be required to transmit data?

    How many towers will be required in a square mile?

    There have been complaints of a 30% increase in billing. Has anyone who has a new meter experienced this? If so any info on the cause?

    If reducing the our footprint is the overall goal why are we not investing in the actual electrical delivery infrastructure? I mean we loose a more than half just because of transformer loss...

    I have many more questions but I leave this just to get the conversation started..
    Most of the RF meters consume a few milliwatts more than a "standard" solid state meter.

    The RF systems utilize a mesh radio network so no towers, they'll talk back to a central AP where the data transitions to OTW. Most (if not all) are operating in the ISM bands (here in the US) so they are limited on transmit power. Data over power line being the exception of course. Very rural areas do pose problems for mesh networks.

    I have a "smart" meter on my house and we have them rolling out at my installation as I type. I haven't seen any anomalies in with reporting or billing. Are you sure those people didn't receive smart meters along with a new rate schedule? Smart meters will better enable utilities to impose demand and peak charges to residential accounts so expect to see new rate schedules being pushed to your PUC as the meters are deployed.

    I believe the idea is (you can ask 100 different people what smart grid means and get 101 different answers) eventually you could have "smart" appliances that will "throttle back" when requested reducing demand on the grid. You would get a rate discount for having said devices. "THEY" call it smart grid but in my opinion (I manage T&D SCADA) it should be called smart load shedding since the grid has been smart for years it just never had the ability to manage its own demand.

    Line loss is much greater than transformer losses generally. There are exceptions of course but in all fairness transformer efficiency is very high when compared to the transmission efficiency. There is only so much you can do when you have to send 100 megawatts over 50 miles of wire.

    Edit: "Smart Grid" is the cliche of the decade in my honest opinion. Ultimately it's a "knee jerk" reaction to a crisis that's been present for years but ignored. No one has a clear solution so we came up with an undefinable one. I feel there are good intentions but there is no coherency, standardization (NY may not talk to PA even though they're connected), or definable goal. Just spend the money, drink the Kool-Aid, and it will all get sorted out later.

    V/r
    D1G
    Last edited by D1G; 11-04-2009 at 12:02 AM. Reason: Had to salt the post with my opinion :)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Posts
    9,564
    not-so-smart grid.

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