March 09, 2004

The Nature of Electrical Markets III

I wrote last August about creating a new smart grid that would allow people to have quick access to pricing information and for smart appliances to have profiles that would adjust their consumption downward during price spikes. I had no idea until now that a first generation effort in just such a grid was happening right next door in Chicago. The first year's results are in and even with very primitive IT tools (phone calls and a web site you manually visit), people are happy with a smarter grid because it saves them money.

This success is likely to drive early adoption of a smart grid because it is a month to month reality, unlike the catastrophic scenario of teams of terrorists taking down the grid every few days. The methods of control are very primitive. Fortunately, the IEEE has a working group that is likely to be able to provide help, IEEE P1547 specifically P1547.3. The same sort of information that a central utility would tell a distributed power generator (the explicit target for P1547) it's time to turn on or shut off would be the same sort of information useful for a consumer to decide whether to shut down or leave running their various energy consuming appliances.

According to the minutes of the last meeting, P1547.3 is currently scheduled to come up for a vote in December of 2004. This puts the engineering of a smart grid IT system in the realm of practicality starting mid 2005. The smart grid is coming and the evidence is showing up in out of the way, practical forums like the IEEE.

Posted by TMLutas at March 9, 2004 01:38 PM