2074

2074 - The Smart Grid Is Not About Residential Energy...

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The Smart Grid Is Not About Residential Energy Efficiency—Yet Michael Reid, E Source ABSTRACT References to the energy-efficiency benefits expected to flow from smart grid deployments are commonplace. Not all actions that reduce the energy bill, however, constitute energy efficiency in the strict meaning of the term; many are properly classified as conservation or load shifting, neither of which intrinsically provides the reliable and long-lasting savings of energy efficiency. An examination of the components of the smart grid shows that the customer- facing elements will, in fact, primarily motivate conservation and load-shifting behaviors rather than energy efficiency. Ideas are presented for using the smart grid as a platform to promote energy efficiency to customers. These include using the rich data available from the smart grid to target homes that present the most promising opportunities for investment, using bill disaggregation techniques to analyze the merits of upgrading particular end uses, and using web portals and individualized household reports to promote reinvestment of savings in permanent efficiency measures. Introduction “Smart Grid: A Must for Energy Efficiency,” read the headline on a recent Business Week column (Apotheker 2009). “A smarter grid delivers end-use conservation and efficiency,” according to a U.S. Department of Energy publication (DOE 2009). A LexisNexis search of published news sources finds over 300 articles in which “smart grid” appears within five words of “energy efficiency” or “energy efficient.” References such as these to energy-efficiency benefits that are projected to flow from implementation of smart grid systems are commonplace in the mainstream media and in publications and statements from utilities, governmental officials, and vendors of smart grid hardware and software. These characterizations are surely serving to cement the image of the smart grid as an energy-efficiency innovation. The smart grid promises a variety of efficiency gains for utilities. Operational efficiencies, such as reductions in meter-reading costs, improvements in outage restoration times, and diminished need for on-site service calls (“truck rolls”) are among the most prominently cited benefits. Energy-efficiency gains are foreseen in utility transmission systems: For example, utilities will be able to reduce distribution line losses through minimization of reactive power and more precise voltage control (Siddiqui 2009). And the smart grid should enhance utilities’ ability to monitor and measure the effectiveness of end-use energy-efficiency programs. On the customer side of the meter, the smart grid is expected to provide opportunities to better manage energy costs. What remains unclear, however, is how the smart grid will promote energy efficiency—as opposed to energy conservation or load shifting—among residential customers. With smart grid rollouts proliferating, it is appropriate to examine whether utilities’
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2074 - The Smart Grid Is Not About Residential Energy...

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