• Innovative Neighborhood Allows Residents to Stay Connected to Their Energy Use

    A seemingly normal suburban neighborhood in Austin, Texas is actually more than it appears. The Mueller neighborhood is, in fact, a smart grid project where residents generate and make money from their solar panels. Residents also have access to minute-by-minute data regarding their energy use, giving them an extremely high degree of stewardship and empowerment over their energy habits. Residents of this neighborhood are arguably the most connected energy consumers in the country.

    The Mueller neighborhood was created by Pecan Street Inc. in collaboration with the City of Austin, Austin Energy, the University of Texas, and multiple other organizations, including the Environmental Defense Fund. Together, these organizations set out to create a model of a clean energy neighborhood that could potentially be implemented across the country. The project began in 2008 and there are now Mueller neighborhoods using the same model in four different cities, indicating that the model can be successfully applied to various climates ad environmental needs.

    For more information about the Mueller neighborhood, read the full article at http://www.edf.org/blog/2014/07/01/smart-energy-experiment-texas-will-benefit-you-too

  • Colorado Mountain College Tracks Its Energy Consumption With CLEER’s Energy Navigator

    Clean Energy Economy for the Region’s (CLEER) now has 25 new additions to its Energy Navigator. The additions are buildings belonging to Colorado Mountain College. The Energy Navigator is quite versatile and is capable of displaying online the college’s annual energy usage, as well as energy consumption every fifteen minutes. Other institutions on the Colorado Energy Navigator include Alpine Bank and Summit School District.

    The Buena Vista Campus and Glenwood Springs administrative offices are the only buildings owned by the college that aren’t currently being tracked by the Energy Navigator. However, the college intends to have the Energy Navigator fully operational across all the campuses by Spring 2014.

    The Colorado Mountain College is hoping that the Energy Navigator will heighten the awareness of energy consumption and conservation. The college also hosts energy competitions across campuses and the energy navigator will only assist in making competitions more interesting and fun. Plans are afoot to install touch screen computer kiosks to encourage interaction with the Energy Navigator.

  • U.S. Appeals Court Rules Against Energy Conservation Rule

    A federal plan to pay companies and individuals for reducing their use of electricity was struck down last Friday in a United States appeals court. The court decision is considered a victory for utility companies, which argued that the plan would discourage general investment in power plants.

    The federal regulator’s plan involved a rule to encourage conservation of electricity by paying smart-grid companies (such as Comverge Inc.) and consumers (such as Alcoa Inc.) for using less electricity. Under this rule, individuals and organizations that cut back in their own use of electricity when utility prices and demand rose were paid similarly to generators that produced electricity. The majority of three judges on the panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that this rule did indeed go too far in infringing upon a state’s right to regulate the sale and retail of power within the state.

    This case represents a significant trend: organizations and individuals in the power production industry view energy conservation as a threat to their business.

    The practice known as demand response is a technique in electricity market places such as Texas.  Texas electricity providers have struggled in recent years to keep up with demand for electricity in the state.  A strong demand response program in the state have help about power shortages in recent years.

  • Intel’s Smart-chip Move


    Powerhouse microprocessor manufacturer Intel is acting to get a significant piece of the $5 billion smart-chip market involved in monitoring power grids and saving energy through balancing supply and consumption demands. Intel’s interests are twofold: the increasing demand in the smart-chip industry and the need for the company to sell more microprocessors.

    Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are all currently pursuing renewable generation as a means to meet climate change demands over the next decade. Hannes Schwaderer, Intel’s director of energy, stated “It’s not a market where Intel is operating in isolation, there is a lot of competition out there.” Other companies directly in competition with Intel are Cisco and IBM, both who have a significant industry presence.

    The future of smart-chips will depend much on the willingness of industrial nations to meet the International Energy Agency goal of a $38 trillion investment to meet the projected increasing demand.  Electricity providers are increasingly looking toward smart technology to manage their power delivery systems.

  • AT&T Thinks Prepaid Electricity May be Ready for the Masses

    Smart Meter


    Up until recently, the idea of a prepaid electricity service has been a novelty held by a small number of utilities in the United States. Lately however, this prepaid concept has begun to pick up momentum as large cellular companies try to hop onto the rapidly growing market.

    AT&T’s lead project manager states that the nearly one third of consumers on a prepay mobile plan cannot be ignored, which contrasts with the smaller than 1% total of electricity consumers that are using a prepaid plan. A study done by AT&T shows that a significant one third of utilities that were surveyed would be highly likely to implement a prepaid system if the transition was possible with little to no cost.  The rapid adoption of smart meters in places like Texas will provide the necessary infrastructure for the growth of prepaid plans.

  • Utilities Promise More Jobs With Smart Grid

    According to Forbes, two large Midwestern utilities recently said that there would be a continual flow of jobs for meter readers and a new range of jobs from the smart grid, even despite the recent changes to technology that reduce the necessity for human meter readers. These companies stated that while the new AMI technology would be phased in over 8 years, there would be a possibility of transition from these workers as meter readers into other areas within the company or just to simply stay on doing the same job.

    The smart grid would also promise a new range of jobs in four key areas. Firstly, installation would create jobs for technicians. Secondly, an increase to communications will mean a demand for communications technicians. Thirdly, cyber security would become a key area where hiring would need to take place. And lastly, jobs that would indirectly result due to the grid that are behind the scenes would come up over time. This is set to happen in the near future and will be a step forward for utilities.

    For more information, read the original article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2013/09/23/utilities-promise-more-jobs-with-smart-grid/