A fully deployed smart grid has the potential to save between $39.69 and $101.57, and between 55 pounds and 592 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, per consumer, per year in the US, according to a report issued by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative.
According to Smart Grid Economic and Environmental Benefits, the potential direct savings from a smart grid would be delivered through four primary mechanisms:
•Increasing electric distribution efficiency;
•Facilitating changes in customer behavior, either by shifting usage away from high-demand periods or by reducing usage. These capabilities include offering customers more choices including time-varying rates, prepayment programs, and customer energy management systems;
•Reducing operating costs from capabilities such as remote meter reading;
•Improving revenue capture through improved smart meter accuracy and theft detection capabilities.
Furthermore, such a system has the potential to improve grid reliability by 25 percent and have indirect economic benefits of $49.35 to $53.08 per customer, per year, the report says.
The indirect savings would be primarily driven by economic productivity increases associated with improved grid reliability. For example, smart grid capabilities such as fault location indicators can help crews find problems faster, while fault isolation mechanisms can limit the number of people impacted by an outage, the report says.
Utilities have realized they can manage their assets a lot better if consumers would use power more prudently, and organizations, including Tennessee Valley Authority, are putting those ideas into action, according to research released in September by Frost & Sullivan.
Utilities have already got commercial and industrial customers on programs restricting power usage during peak times to balance the load over the course of a day in exchange for lower power rates, but residential customers account for about 20 percent of US energy usage and, as such are a key target, according to Frost & Sullivan.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is demonstrating the benefits of deploying smarter systems to all end-user tiers. It works with 155 municipalities and cooperative utilities, which resell its power to residential and commercial and industrial customers. These utilities are recognizing the value in implementing smarter energy offering solutions such as programmable thermostats that switch on demand-enabled appliances and save enough energy to bring rates down, Frost & Sullivan says.