UK smart grid could create £5bn export economy Companies mentioned: Ernst & Young, S&C Electric and EPB, Peco Energy, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Southern California Edison, Gridco Systems, One Stop Green and Visible Energy
Weekly Intelligence Brief 19 – 25 April 2012
UK smart grid could create £5bn export economy
A transition to smart grids in the UK will require an investment of £23bn by 2050, but supplying power with conventional technology over that same period will costs the UK economy £42bn, according to Bill Easton, utilities director at Ernst & Young.
"In addition to the direct economic benefits, we can also expect to see wider economic benefits to the UK, providing a welcome boost to growth, jobs and exports," Easton said.
"These could include close to 10,000 new jobs and exports in excess of £5bn," he said, adding "overall, the report paints a compelling case in favour of smart grids".
But the report also identifies challenges such as whether current or proposed government-backed schemes will deliver results. It said the adoption of smart grid technology is likely to be slow, with little investment before 2023.
One of the biggest challenges is to convince consumers that spending money on new technology now will help them save money in the future.
Chattanooga makes final step on smart grid
S&C Electric and EPB, one of the largest publicly-owned providers of electric power in the US country, have made a final installation of the IntelliRupter PulseCloser components, which are being used in Chattanooga, Tennessee’s smart grid project.
When an event occurs on the EPB’s self-healing grid, the IntelliRupter PulseCloser components communicate with one another through EPB's high-speed fiber-optic network to determine the location of the event, and then automatically isolates it and reroute power to restore electric service to as many people as possible.
Power interruptions for business and residential consumers in the US can cost up to $80bn each year, but smart grids and related technology can help cut outages by 40 per cent, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study.
Peco avoids marketing meters ‘smart’
Pennsylvania utility, Peco Energy, is installing the first of 1.6 million new-generation electric meters, which will enable customers to communicate with the utility, but is refraining from calling the meters ‘smart’.
The new meters, which Pennsylvania is requiring for all large electric utilities, allow for two-way wireless communication with customers, setting the stage for time-of-use pricing next year, according to a Canadian Business news report.
The meters claim to improve utilities' ability to detect and manage outages, as well as to turn on or shut off customers remotely, the latter of which is one of the concerns of low income and vulnerable people.
The utility is avoiding to market the meters as ‘smart meters’ following negative reception from citizens in other areas of the US where smart meter roll-outs are taking place. Concerns over radiation and consumer energy use privacy are some of the more common reasons for customers to ask for an opt-out on smart meter installations in their homes.
CPUC supports Edison’s opt-out programme
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has made a final decision that allows Southern California Edison (SCE) residential customers to have the option to choose an Edison SmartConnect meter or a traditional electric meter.
"Meter technology worldwide is transitioning from analog to digital technology, but our customers come first," said Erwin Furukawa, senior vice president of Customer Service at SCE.
The CPUC's final decision requires customers who opt out of the program to pay a $75 one-time set-up fee and a $10 recurring monthly charge. The cost covers manual meter-reading and associated operational and billing activities.
Income-qualified customers pay $10 for the initial set-up fee and $5 a month.
SmartConnect meter installations will continue through 2012 to a total of nearly 5 million for residential and business customers.
Gridco raises $8.5m
Gridco Systems, a US startup developing digital power electronics, has raised an $8.5m in a series B venture round, it has been reported in an SEC filing.
The Boston-based company has raised venture money before and has venture backers that include General Catalyst Partners, Lux Capital, North Bridge Venture Partners and RockPort Capital.
Its last funding round closed In July 2011, when it raised $12.5m.
Funding will help accelerate the company’s product development of new generation of utility-scale power management systems. Founder Naimish Patel is leading the company’s team, which has varied experience in power systems, power electronics, energy, signal processing, networking and distributed computing.
Silver Spring Networks launches Sao Paulo trial
Silver Spring Networks has joined the hungry crowd of smart meter players in Brazil with news that it is conducting a 1,000-home pilot in Sao Paulo. Its metering partner is Senergy, part of Brazil’s Nansen Group, according to news reports.
It has been reported that Silver Spring will supply the smart meter platform for the trial project while Senergy and Nansen provide their Centralized Smart Metering technology.
One Stop Green stocks energy management strip
One Stop Green, a Texas based online retailer for green, energy efficient products and services now carries the UFO Power Center. The device’s inventors, Visible Energy, is a Silicon Valley start-up dedicated to creating products and interactive energy conservation services that help consumers take control of their electricity consumption.
On Visible Energy’s site the device is selling for $129 per unit, and claims to be the most powerful energy management power strip in the market today. The UFO Power Center is a four–outlet smart power strip that helps you manage the energy use of home appliances, eliminate stand-by power, and save electricity, provides real time feedback to help users understand the energy each individual electrical devices consumes and its cost.
It is possible to cut energy usage in home entertainment system by more than 50%, without changing any viewing habits or having to perform daily on/off operations manually. In example cases, an entertainment system hooked up to the device can save up to $3 per week in electricity costs.
The UFO Power Center connects to a home's WiFi, so customers can make it part of their wireless network so that it automatically upgrades the Power Center’s software over the Internet.
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