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Smarter Electric Grid Could Save Power

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the you-should-return-for-a-refund-if-it-doesn't dept.

Power 268

Wired has a timely story about putting more of the automated and non-automated decisions behind the use of electrical power into and around households. From the summary: "If the electric grid stops being just a passive supplier of juice, consumers could make choices about how and when to consume power. Power providers and tech companies are working to redesign the grid so you can switch off your house when high demand strains the system, or program your house or appliances to make that move." A similar story is featured right now on PhysOrg, highlighting a particular pilot project involving "smart meters" in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.

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268 comments

fine I'll say it (0, Flamebait)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297308)

How idiotic is this? Yeah, I wanna go reset all my digital clocks every time I turn my house off. What a ridiculously stupid idea. But wait, there's more! It'd turn non-battery security alarm systems off when you're away. Not a good idea. If you turn your power off overnight and a fire starts, you can't turn on the lights to see how to get out. Just dumb.

Re:fine I'll say it (5, Insightful)

DaveInAustin (549058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297368)

It's not a matter of turning off all the electricity to your house. It's a matter of running your dishwasher and drier during off-peak hours and cutting back on the A/C during the really peak times. Right not, there are no incentives consumers to time their electricity usage, even though the cost to the utility varies wildly, and the utility is expected to provide as much power as you want. This BTW, is one of the reasons for the blackouts in California. That and the fact the companies like Enron knew this fact and exploited it.

Re:fine I'll say it (1, Troll)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297392)

more like power plants are idiotically designed to not be scalable and when they fail to supply enough power, they blame the customers. It's not like it came as some big shock that people use more power during the day than at night. They knew it, they didn't plan for it when they built the plant, so it's 100% their fault and they should fix it without forcing the customers to fix it for them.

Re:fine I'll say it (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297492)

more like power plants are idiotically designed to not be scalable
You design a gas turbine that spins at infinite RPM. Let me know how that works out for ya.

The nature of power plants (turbines, etc) makes them plenty scalable, within a range of possibilities. Building more plants (or generators within plants) requires a massive new capital investment, as well as environmental compliance.

There is no type of currently-available power plant that is infinitely scalable without further capital investment--solar is limited by how much sunlight is shining, wind by how much wind is blowing, hydro by friction of water flowing through a finite pipe, nuclear by turbine and heat dissipation capacity, gas by turbine size, etc. You can't just dump more fuel into any of these systems and expect a positive response.

Re:fine I'll say it (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298112)

We all no what the REAL problem is: NIMBY-Not In My Back Yard. I am glad my home state (AR) was smart enough to build a couple of nuclear power plants. But while you think that would lower our bills instead it has gone up because the power company bought out its sister company in Louisiana and then ran smack into NIMBY and so we're stuck for all the maintenance for their ancient falling down coal powered crap.


What we need are some REAL leaders and not just spineless congress critters.What we NEED is some leaders who will say-"We NEED safe affordable power and a good modern infrastructure. So we ARE going to build new nuclear power plants where they can be the most benefit,while putting more research into both alternatives and safer nuclear power designs.We ARE going to rebuild our failing bridges and roads,and we ARE going to have a national broadband infrastructure so we can compete in modern society!" What we NEED is a leader who'll tell all the NIMBYs to take a hike and do what is best for the nation.


But,sadly,I doubt that is going to happen. Instead we'll get more wars over the ever dwindling oil reserves,more finger pointing and useless rhetoric,and we'll slowly slip farther and farther behind everyone else as we slowly turn into just another third world dictatorship. I truly hope that I'm wrong. I truly hope we'll get leaders that can look ahead and think long term instead of simply looking at the next election cycle and the enrichment of their friends and ways to ever increase their powers over us. But I haven't seen anything in a long time that would make me believe it just won't keep going the way it has for the past couple of decades. But that is my 02c,YMMV

Re:fine I'll say it (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297546)

I cry foul!!

The plants were designed to be scalable, and they did plan for growth.

Then a funny thing happened. Environmental-whackos stepped up and put a stop to all new electrical generation plants for a period of around 15 years. You couldn't even expand existing plants during this period.

Only when things started getting really bad, and California blacked out a couple times did the rules start to loosen.

Hell it was probably you marching up and down with your scruffy beard and cardboard sign in college that stopped infrastructure development for all we know.

Re:fine I'll say it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297790)

The environmental wackos had little to do with the blackouts in California. The problem was that the state took forever in deregulating the power sector, so that no one wanted to build a power plant for five years because they knew they would be forced to sell it due to deregulation (which required each utility to own plants corresponding to 50% of power it sold).

Re:fine I'll say it (1)

SecondHand (883047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297978)

The utility plants are not so scalable. They are designed for peak demand which occurs between 9 and 11 am. Nuclear plants, for example, have a big inertia and can't change their production very rapidly. They are also designed for a nominal energy production and they suffer if they produce more or less.

Re:fine I'll say it (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298042)

Any technology that requires heating large quantities of water will not be instantly scalable yet can still be used for peaking (high load hours).

Gas fired electrical generation plants can respond faster than Coal fired ones, and Nuclear (contrary to your assertion) can also respond quite quickly to additional demand.

All of these require that their boilers be kept at or near steam temperature at times when peaking is likely to be necessary.

About the fastest responding technology is hydro power. Penstocks can be opened and turbines spun up in less than 5 minutes.

Current electrical generation capacity is "scaled" by replication. As a utility approaches 100% utilization during peak periods it starts planning another generation plant. These things 1 year to design, 2 years to build, and 15 years to get permission to build. By that time the design is obsolete.

The problem is one of NIMBY, pure and simple. It will take several California brownouts before the political hacks get out the the way and let the engineers do their job.

Re:fine I'll say it (3, Insightful)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297992)

Environmental-whackos .... Only when things started getting really bad, and California blacked out a couple times did the rules start to loosen.

No. Enron, amongst other crooked energy traders, and the states that enabled them (Hello Texas!) stepped up. California wasn't counting on being screwed over by its fellow states (as in transmission lines deliberately scheduled to block power going *into* CA during peak times).

The California blackouts were caused solely by criminals doing criminal acts. There was plenty of power otherwise.

If anything, California has since realized that it needs more of its own power generation facilities to protect itself from its neighbors that would sell it down the river (more literal than you know) in no time flat.

Re:fine I'll say it (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298094)

> California has since realized that it needs more
> of its own power generation facilities to protect
> itself from its neighbors

But this is exactly what I was saying.

California had long had the practice of dis-allowing new electrical generation plants anywhere in the state by tying them up in such a morass of regulation that it was effectively impossible to build new plants there.

This was done intentionally to push the generation plants (and the associated pollution) out of their back yard into someone elses.

Why should Texas, who built and owned their own plants and transmission lines (and who, for a long time saw no need to tie into the national grid) be forced to deliver electricity to California SIMPLY so that California could avoid pollution. Texas didn't escape the pollution. They had gas and coal fired plants belching 24/7 so California could flip the switch but never see the smoke stack.

California got exactly what it deserved. Washington, Oregon, and even Montana also faced increased rates due to California refusing to improve its infrastructure.

Re:fine I'll say it (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297594)

Capacity costs money. When it goes idle for 16 out of 24 hours, it's just a dead weight. Base load plants are generally more economical than plants that can easily adjust their output, so peaks genuinely cost more to cover in any event. If they want to offer customers a discount to help them shave the peaks and avoid the outlay, I fail to see the problem.

I don't think the plans that essentially have homeowners buying on a commodities market are likely worthwhile. People already have jobs, becoming ameteur commodities traders in the off hours is a bit much to ask.

Hoever, simple things like a different rate during set peak hours can work well. Most households can delay laundry and dishwashers until the evening or early morning. Many do anyway because people are at work.

Re:fine I'll say it (2, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297920)

but then again there is good investment return in peak load powerplants like pump storage powerplants, especially when coupled with a nuke powerplant.
they can be loaded using the cheapest electricity availiable and they can sell at the peak load (the most expensive electricity).

Re:fine I'll say it (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298064)

It's mostly noise about gas prices that has this argument floating about. Base load is a myth, and only applies to certain types of generation. Hydro in particular isn't affected by fuel costs. Only Drought conditions and no much even then. They can vary the feed at will, in fact they have to, to manage the river flow. A few idled generators costs nothing in ROI.

This article is pure noise.

Re:fine I'll say it (4, Informative)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298130)

A few idled generators costs nothing in ROI.
When something--like a generator--costs tens of millions to build, you measure the interest costs in thousands of dollars per day. The person writing interest checks to UBS or Citibank would very much beg to differ with your assertion that idle capital is free. The money it takes to build something like a generator isn't free. Even if the hydro generators cost nothing to maintain (doubtful), they're still expensive in interest costs if they sit idle.

Re:fine I'll say it (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297654)

It's completely amazing... my foes go out of their way to make themselves look ignorant... it's a gift. you sir seem to be hell bent on paying as much as possible for your electric bill every month... and you seem not to understand that power plants come in FINITE sizes and actually cost a shit load of money.

Re:fine I'll say it (3, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297670)

I'm not a specialist in electric power, but here in Switzerland we have what we call are "Pumpkraftwerke".

They are basically water powered generators utilizing a large storage lake - when demand is high, the water runs from the upper to the lower lake, creating electricity. When demand is low, the water is pumped from the lower to the upper lake.

They require a large difference in height between the two seas (usually in the lower hundreds), but otherwise are pretty low maintenance.

There _is_ of course some ecological impact. But they have served us well during the past years.

Re:fine I'll say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297722)

They use the same technology in upper new york state - pretty smart idea actually.

Re:fine I'll say it (2, Informative)

SecondHand (883047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297958)

I believe the Swiss buy cheap electricity from the French at night to pump the water back up the mountain so they can use it during the day when the electricity is more expensive.

Re:fine I'll say it (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298016)

That's mostly because our local hippies don't want to build more nuclear reactors.

Instead we have to buy french electricity generated by using coal or oil.

Makes perfect sense. %)

Re:fine I'll say it (2, Interesting)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298022)

Sure, there's plenty of ways to bank cheap off-peak electricity if you're clever about it. There's a system for commercial buildings to make ice at night in an insulated tank that's used for AC during the day.

Re:fine I'll say it (4, Interesting)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297734)

They do plan for it - and is the reason "grids" came about in the early days of electricity ... industrial loads tend to run somewhat opposite times of residential loads, and thus much of the time, base-plants, despite often not being that scaleable, can economically cover much of the load without problem.

So while people use more power at night, many industrial users tend to use less, so it evens out most of the time.

The tricky time is late afternoon / early evening where peak loads can occasionally spike significantly requiring the extended use of peaking power plants, such as gas fired units to cover the shortfall at much higher expense...

However, on many grids in the U.S., most days, such peaks are not a big issue ... it's typically only extreme cold or hot weather that leads to excessively high peak loads, though many transmission operators mitigate such extreme situations by directing industrial users to shed load and/or slight voltage reduction.

Ron

Re:fine I'll say it (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298236)

Bzzzzt, wrong, thank you for playing, have a nice day, next contestant please.

Sorry, that power plant was built back in 1975. Before big-screen TVs and before computers. Before always-ready-on-standby electronics and wall-warts everywhere. And when it was built is *was* scaleable, they *have* to be, because if you generate power that no one uses, it has to be dissipated as heat and *that* is wasteful. And costs money, which gets passed on to the consumers. Meanwhile they've got coal-fired plants that are completely shut down more than 75% of the time, because those plants are only needed during peak times - 8 hours a day for two months in the summer, and 8 hours a day for two months in the winter. Meanwhile the maintenance costs and staffing costs need to be paid 100% of the time, whether it's running or not.

Let the consumer be hit in the pocket with the true cost of that 50 inch plasma TV, or the true cost of leaving the computer on so they can have that torrented movie waiting for them when they get home from work. Either that, or the consumers will have to pay a *much* higher flat rate to pay for yet another power plant that will only get used for those 6 days a year during a heatwave when the power company has to brown out because of capacity. Yeah, real smart there... paying millions for a plant that sits idle... fully staffed and maintained... for 51 weeks of the year.

Re:fine I'll say it (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297382)

Nowhere does it say in the article that it'll actually cut power to a house outright. In fact power cuts are one of the primary reasons for the system. All of this is made abundantly clear in the article. You did read the article, right?

Smarter nigger could avoid saying "yo" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297622)

imagine that, speaking the language without an "accent" like every other minority that's been living here for several generations.

Re:fine I'll say it (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297430)

congratulations, you've missed the point entirely; and why don't your clocks run on batteries?

But wait, there's more! It'd turn non-battery security alarm systems off when you're away. Not a good idea.
the idea is to reduce the power you use, it doesn't mean you need to shut off your power completely [why would you if you have perishables in the fridge?] it means you can program various sections/appliances in your house to do certain things, raise the temp in the fridge a degree [reasonable power saving measure] or high demand appliances like washers/dryers/dishwashers start at a time that is less straining on power etc. your choice. the bottom line is that you would have the ability to automate the use of power in your house so it 1) can save $$ and 2) put less of a strain on the grid during high demand. why? too high of a demand can cuase blackouts and wtf are you going to do when your power shuts off pretty much RANDOMLY in your house around that time?

Re:fine I'll say it (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297772)

While high demand does cause blackouts, there's another way to phrase it:

Insufficient supply causes blackouts.

It's not the consumer's fault that they're asking for too much power, it's fundamentally more the producer's fault for not providing it. Or, at the very least, equally the producer's fault.

Re:fine I'll say it (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297974)

While high demand does cause blackouts, there's another way to phrase it: Insufficient supply causes blackouts. It's not the consumer's fault that they're asking for too much power, it's fundamentally more the producer's fault for not providing it. Or, at the very least, equally the producer's fault.

If supply is limited - which it is - then high demand comes at a high price.
Anyone want to pay double or quadruple for their electricity?

It has been well-known for ages that supply is limited, yet virtually no-one cares to save energy. This is because though limited, supply is sufficient for the most time. Only when it becomes insufficient will people start implementing such measures on a broader scale.

Re:fine I'll say it (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298018)

On our current scale, supply is only limited because they haven't built more power plants. It's not like we're hurting for space to put nuclear reactors, and it's not like we're hurting for nuclear reactor fuel. They're just expensive, and some people think they're evil.

Eventually you might be able to say "we can't generate more power", but we're nowhere near there and won't be for decades even with the most pessimistic predictions.

Our supply is limited, not by physics or any sort of universal constant, but simply by the fact that we haven't built more supply.

Duh... (4, Informative)

mspohr (589790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297326)

This is a no-brainer. Here in Switzerland, our houses are wired with meters that can shed load (water heaters, clothes dryers, dishwashers) during peak times. It's been this way for many years... even before these new technologies were available.

I guess the US electric companies always found they could get reimbursed for expensive peak load plants so they had no incentive to apply intelligence to load management.

Re:Duh... (2, Insightful)

Desert Tripper (1166529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297436)

How does the meter do that? Does it control the circuit breakers connected to these appliances, or does it communicate directly to the CPU of the appliance to tell it to turn off? Here, we have small VHF receivers that the utility attaches to central air-conditioning units. They send a signal, a relay interrupts the control circuit to the compressor contactor.

Re:Duh... (2, Interesting)

mspohr (589790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297544)

This is really old technology. We have separate wiring to these appliances.

Re:Duh... (2, Funny)

Mike89 (1006497) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297696)

This is really old technology. We have separate wiring to these appliances.
How does the wiring know whether to be live or not?

Re:Duh... (3, Funny)

mspohr (589790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297770)

It's turtles all the way down, sonny.

Not really, the new thing about this is... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297708)

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Re:Duh... (2, Insightful)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297586)

Florida has the same, it saves you ~$10 per month for the power company to turn off high current items like - Air Conditioners. I had that cut, because of at home mom w/ 2 little ones. The house temperature hit over hundred, then it took up to 3hr to bring it back down 78, every evening. Where once it was cut (yes, they come out a cut a wire) house stayed even all day long, and our power bill dropped because the A/C worked less. Also mom and kids were not roasting all day, or driving to mall to keep cool (and spending money).

Re:Duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297760)

This is a no-brainer. Here in Switzerland, our houses are wired with meters that can shed load (water heaters, clothes dryers, dishwashers) during peak times. It's been this way for many years... even before these new technologies were available.


I guess the US electric companies always found they could get reimbursed for expensive peak load plants so they had no incentive to apply intelligence to load management.

Population of Switzerland: 7.5 million-ish
Population of United States: 300 million-ish

No brainer huh? Why don't you look at those numbers then go and think about it for a bit.

Any transition to any sort of smart power meter is going to take a long time in the U.S.

By that logic (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298056)

Population of Switzerland: 7.5 million-ish
Population of United States: 300 million-ish

No brainer huh? Why don't you look at those numbers then go and think about it for a bit.

Any transition to any sort of smart power meter is going to take a long time in the U.S.


By that logic, the USA should have also lagged behind in computers, cars, TVs, services, housing, etc. No brainer, huh? Building cars for 300 million people has got to take 40 times longer than building cars for 7.5 million, right? I guess it would explain the Amish buggies. Heck, you're probably even starving because harvesting enough grain for 300 million people must take longer than for 7.5 million ;)

The short answer is that it doesn't scale that way. If you have 40 times more population, here's the important part, you also can produce 40 times more with them, at the same technology level and access to resources. So it evens out.

Basically it's no harder to build smart meters for 300 million people than for 7.5 million or, indeed, for the 35,365 people in Liechtenstein. If the demand is there, having more people just gives you more people to produce them with.

Now there are other considerations which are valid, for special cases, e.g., distances for infrastructure. But the "well, it's ok to be behind because there's more of us" argument that keep popping up again and again, is almost invariably bunk.

Ripple control ++ (4, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297332)

Many places already use ripple control to control water heaters. So it's a matter of just extending this idea.

Of course it is important to only control the right loads. Water heating is a good candidate, so might be charging electric vehicles overnight. Basically loads that need juice but not necessarily constantly.

Probably a good idea not to do this to TV sets or medical equipment.

Re:Ripple control ++ (4, Interesting)

peipas (809350) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297394)

I think a better solution for saving the energy drain of having a vat of water constantly being heated would be to instead install a tankless water heater. They are more expensive, but they heat the water real-time through a series of small tubes.

Re:Ripple control ++ (5, Funny)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297462)

[Tankless water heaters] are more expensive, but they heat the water real-time through a series of small tubes.
I didn't know you could use the Internet to heat water.

Re:Ripple control ++ (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297636)

I didn't know you could use the Internet to heat water.
And waste all that energy created through flame wars!

Re:Ripple control ++ (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297806)

I didn't know you could use the Internet to heat water.


At first i thought "rofl!" but then I realized that this is precisely what watercooling does. Maybe one day someone will create a water heater for your coffee using your CPU's heat.

Re:Ripple control ++ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297880)

[Tankless water heaters] are more expensive, but they heat the water real-time through a series of small tubes.
I didn't know you could use the Internet to heat water.
It's all the flames

Re:Ripple control ++ (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297518)

The advantage of heating water overnight was that you would be using 'off peak' electricity.

On that subject... doesn't anyone know what the losses are on a well insulated water heater?

That does not spread the load (3, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297570)

With a tankless system, you need to provide power on demand or the customer gets a cold shower. All those folks showering at 6:30 am need their water heated at the same time.

With a tank system you can spread the heating over the night (eg. turning on each tank for an hour means that you can service perhaps 6 times as many customers with the same peak load).

Most retail suppliers get charged some multiplier of their peak load so are very keen to keep peak loads down.

Re:That does not spread the load (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297934)

In Poland we can order plan with "peak" and "off peak" prices for electricity. Then you can mount clocks which automatically turn your boiler on in "off peak" hours. Typically there are 2 hours "off peak" about 12PM, so you can still run boiler to have warm water in the evening.

Re:Ripple control ++ (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298166)

This makes it significantly -worse- if the problem is a large peak in electricity-consumption, and lots of people want to shower at the same time, for example in the morning.

My mother has a smart water-heater, because she has power-pricing that is such that the first 3KW she draws is very cheap, but usage above this costs much more.

So, it normally tries to heat the water to 75C, which is then automatically mixed with cold water to deliver 60C water. If, however current power-usage is above 3KW, it lets the temperature sink all the way to 55C before turning on the heating.

A tankless heater would be -horrible- for this pricing-structure. Most of the time use nothing, but some of the time peaking into many KWs.

Some things need the juice (2, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297336)

You wouldn't want to come home and find that all your Cherry Garcia has melted and your arugula has wilted because your "smart" house decided to take itself off the grid. You need to have some sort of backup power for quite a few appliances. A way to do this is to produce your own power with solar panels or wind turbines, and in fact a lot of people are already doing that (and pushing electricity back into the system as a net supplier!).

But really, the way to avoid the crunch is to make the systems we use more efficient. If we can't live without air conditioning, maybe we can take steps to make it cheaper and less energy-consuming than our current HVACs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_lake_water_cooling [wikipedia.org]

Of course efficiency improvements are only a temporary band-aid. At some point consumption will overtake the gains made in efficiency. However, if we can forestall the inevitable long enough to move more of our power consumption needs to a renewable energy solution, the better off we will be and the less dependent we will be on fossil fuels.

Re:Some things need the juice (4, Interesting)

hacker (14635) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297396)

"A way to do this is to produce your own power with solar panels or wind turbines, and in fact a lot of people are already doing that (and pushing electricity back into the system as a net supplier!)."

And you know what the net benefit is of that? Higher power bills for the remaining people who do not generate their own power.

I didn't believe it either, but NPR did a story on it a few days ago. Basically the power companies are REQUIRED to pay higher prices back for people who sell them back power... up to 7x in some cases. This means that the additional cost they pay OUT, comes right out of the pockets of everyone else. It's only $2-$3 per-month for most people, but that could still mean quite a bit if spread over a small town of subscribers.

It's funny... we start using corn to produce ethanol, and people in Haiti and Darfur end up starving. We go green by producing our own power, and we end up paying more for it anyway.

Seems like there's always someone looking to get ahead, by screwing over everyone else in the process.

Re:Some things need the juice (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297578)

That's not how wind power works out here in the mid-west. My friend looked into it (he has an old windmill on his property and thought he might as well replace it with something functional) and he said he would only get paid about 1/3 of the rate that we pay the energy company.
<rant>Maybe NPR was taking an average of all states and since there are probably more blue states than there are red states, it would make sense. Although come to think of it the state I live in is a blue state at the moment... Oh well give it time, I love government mandates. </rant>

Re:Some things need the juice (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297658)

Figures don't lie, but liars figure. They are required to pay more than wholesale because they charge the customers more than wholesale. It's a simple matter of fairness and incentive. Why would I find it fair to sell power TO the grid (often during peak houre when it costs the MOST) at $0.02/KWh and buy it back at $0.14/KWh (at night when it's cheap)?

If the power company buys excess power at retail from home producers, they STILL gain because it helps them shave the peaks.

Re:Some things need the juice (2, Insightful)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297746)

Because the power companies are providing a service, namely, the transmission lines.

Why would you find it fair to sell used games to Gamestop for $1 per game, and buy games for $20 per game? Same reason - because Gamestop provides a service, and pays money for the right to provide it (in inventory space, real estate, and employee wages.)

Re:Some things need the juice (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297816)

And a home selling power back reduces the load on the transmission lines (or more to the point delays the need to build more). It's not as if there are homes turning a profit on their power generation. The meter may run backwards occasionally, but they still end up owing at the end of the month.

It's not the huge rip-off against the power company as it was represented to be.

And frankly, I would NOT sell a $20 game back for $1.00 unless used games were going for $1.50 or so. I'd rather trade with someone or just give them away.

Re:Some things need the juice (1)

Benaiah (851593) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298128)

Because the power companies are providing a service, namely, the transmission lines.

Why would you find it fair to sell used games to Gamestop for $1 per game, and buy games for $20 per game? Same reason - because Gamestop provides a service, and pays money for the right to provide it (in inventory space, real estate, and employee wages.)
Sorry but your post is devoid of logic. What people are trying to say is that gamestop shouldn't buy games for $2 and sell them for $17, but should buy them at close to say $15. Now this still doesn't really make sense, but its better. At the closer rate it encourages people to generate electricity and put it into the grid rather then trying to store it for later use.

Sure the power company has to provide the lines, but once they are there it doesnt cost four fifths of fuck all to maintain. And you are already paying to be connected to the grid.

Finally, To possibly make the system even fairer, the rate should also be peak dependent. So perhaps during the peak time they buy electricity for 30c and off peak they buy it at 10c, averaging 15c per unit over 24hours.

Re:Some things need the juice (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298204)

"Should" according to what? In the case of Gamestop, at least, it's pretty trivially clear that Gamestop shouldn't, largely because nobody has driven them out of business by doing that yet - it must be less profitable than what Gamestop is currently doing. (I suspect actually unprofitable, because those profit margins would suck.)

In the case of power lines, there are many trickier issues. There are losses, for example - if you put one watt of power in, you don't get one watt out. There's maintenance, which is actually pretty significant considering the scale and nowhere near easy. And, of course, there's the fact that makes the entire thing incredibly hard to figure out, which is that it's a monopoly and figuring out the "right" pricing for monopolies is a hideous bitch.

And, from what I know of the payment system, they do indeed pay more during peak times than they do off peak times.

Re:Some things need the juice (4, Interesting)

blitziod (591194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297434)

well large apartment communities are a place to start. Here in texas we have hundreds of large multi-unit communities. They almost all have terrible windows, doors and insulation. Require them to all have double pained glass ( instead of the large single pain sliding glass doors on the balconey) and decent insulation. I used to rent one of those and my 800 sq ft apt had a higher per month bill than my parents 2500 sq ft house did. And frankly that house was not all that well insulated either and it had an ancient AC unit from the 70's.

Are you hurting or something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297802)

The word for a piece of glass is "pane", not "pain". That is all.

New for small customers, not large customers (4, Informative)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297346)

The Milwaukee Road had a demand metering and limiting system installed on the eastern half of the Rocky Mountain electrified railroad in 1916 specifically to limit demand on the utility. OTOH, if they weren't Montana Power's largest customer, they were probably one their 2 or 3 largest customers.


The primary benefit from a smart grid isn't so much saving energy as limiting peak demand - but it would help in making best use of intermittent generation (e.g. renewables such as solar and wind).

FPL has been doing this for years (1)

madsci1016 (1111233) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297372)

I live in Florida and FPL already has a system like this in place and has so for the better part of a decade. It's called FPL On Call. It let's FPL shut off certain appliances you wire to there smart boxes when the grid is under heavy load. My neighbors have them tied to there pool filtration system. For the discount they give on the bill, it's not a bad deal for non-essential appliances. I would never wire my whole house to one though. Or my A/C system. The other talk about letting the power system control your smart house seems ridiculous. If i'm going to build a smart house, i'm going to be the one who controls it, not the power company.

Re:FPL has been doing this for years (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297650)

I was in area they were changing everyone's meter out of a smart meter (that was 8 years ago). They were wiring them into the cable system.

Great Idea - wire the cable to power grid, so when the lighting hits power line (every high probability was shown for underground power) it jumps across the meter and then takes out your TV, Computers and rest. The $2k you spent on lighting arresting your power panels was for not.

I had them remove it the day they installed it. Had managers coming out to talking to talk me out of it. I would only agree they gave me letter stating that they were responsible for all replace costs. They refused to back their technology.

duh!! (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297380)

One of the biggest and EASIEST ways to change carbon footprints and reduce global warming contributions is to modify HOW we use electricity... period.

Yes, there are always drawbacks to any new technology, but having electronic and electrical systems that are smart enough to modify their behaviors at given times or in response to given inputs is a real DUH!

Everybody in the US (probably) has two or three such devices. Some alarm clocks behave differently according to day of week, some even allowing you to work sat/sun with two other days off during the week. There are thermostats to control heaters and air conditioning systems. There are regulatory systems in freezers, refrigerators, and stoves etc. You have DVR, VCR, and other electronics that reacts to inputs. Your computer probably uses a temperature reading device to know when to run the cooling fan and when not to do so.

If you could tell some of your devices to shut down for x minutes if they receive a certain signal, no big deal. Your freezer will not defrost for a long time. Water heaters don't need to be on ALL the time. A/C can go dormant on a signal but again start up to keep the temperature below a set level. All these things would allow each person to contribute to lowered electricity requirements and thus less greenhouse gases.

To me this is a no brainer that politicians should be asking manufacturers to comply with by 2010. All the electronics and protocols are in place or available right now. I also believe that manufacturers should be given incentives to retrofit such devices to appliances that are less than 5 years old.

This is a known tech solution to reducing carbon footprints and should be a win-win for all concerned. There is no reason that I can see that it should NOT be done.

Yes, as pointed out somethings should not be turned off... well, don't set those systems up for failure... DUH!

Re:duh!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297580)

Global warming is a myth, well, due to CO2 emissions anyway.

Why the hell would I want anyone to be able to turn off any of my appliances because of "high load". This would have extreme abuse issues.

I mean I can't even trust my power company to keep the power running 24/7 as it is. Why should I trust them to responsibly regulate my devices peak power usage?

Re:duh!! (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297674)

I wouldn't want them turning off mine either, but if they sent me a signal which I could program my devices to react to, that would be okay. It would be a voluntary action on my part to let some devices power down for a pre-determined time. If enough people do this, it would reduce peak loads significantly. Say you choose 15 minutes power down for your hot water, A/C, and freezer. I choose say 30 minutes of power down when the signal is given. The amount of energy requirement that is removed from the grid at that peak time is non-trivial and you remain in control of what you are willing to do to help.

This would also maintain backward compatibility for those with some or 100% non-compliant devices/appliances while still reducing peak loads and over-all usage.

Re:duh!! (0, Troll)

kodeman (794791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297850)

Speaking of "duh"...

Read about how the scientists attributed as having agreed upon the existence of global warming were named without their consent, nor had they voiced any such affirmation on the matter.

Global warming is a fallacy; a red herring being used to line pockets and consolidate power in global policy bodies like the UN. If you have actually bothered to step outside recently or looked at temperature trends for the past several years, you'd notice we are amidst a global cooling trend. This has nothing to do with greenhouse gases. It is due to lower levels of solar output, particularly in relation to sunspot activity.

Oh, and by the way, the new scare term is "global climate change".

Carbon footprint is the son of the-artist-formerly-known-as-global-warming and inheritor to the throne of red herrings. Carbon dioxide, which is purported to be at the center of the crisis, is a life gas. Many people might argue that having stuff around that promotes life is a good thing. More carbon dioxide contributes to greater plant growth and oxygen production, which helps us be more active and think more clearly. Carbon dioxide is at the lowest levels it has been in recorded history. It is hardly a problem. If anything, we need more carbon dioxide, and less scare-mongering pseudo-science... and maybe a refresher in seventh grade earth sciences.

That said, we have a planet awash with hydrocarbons, wind, solar radiation, and water. All of these are energy sources we can harness today and simply don't, or constrain our production of raw material or energy derived from those sources.

Look, we are on a planet which has teamed with life for millions of years. Given that oil derives from living matter, it is inconceivable that we have managed to locate or use anywhere near all of it in the last century. Even if this were not the case, we have a plethora of known oil reserves we've yet to tap which have been put off limits to drilling for little or no reason, other than the duplicity of politicians and oil companies. Have a look at the U.S. National Geological Survey maps.

Water is a hydrogen fuel storage source with its own combustive catalyst, oxygen, built right in. I mean, we drink what could potentially be our most inexhaustible terrestrial fuel source. The planet is more than two-thirds covered with ocean, and we have even more locked up in tundra ice, freshwater, and cloud systems. It's as insane we don't make use of it as it is that we don't use more steam-powered engines capable of more work for less energy.

Supplemented with wind turbines and solar converters, we'd be so completely independent of energy concerns that we wouldn't even be having this discussion on power savings.

You want to save some energy, get a hybrid conversion kit for you vehicle that lets it use water as a supplemental fuel source. Get a small wind turbine or solar panels and pull your deficit off the grid during your peak usages and sell power to the electric company by pushing your excess out to the grid during low usage. Insulate, insulate, insulate.

Oh, and anyone who doesn't like me exhaling because it raises my carbon footprint and contributes to global warming... well, they can just hold it in until they are blue in the face.

A lot more needs to be done to the grid (4, Interesting)

stox (131684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297404)

In order to effectively balance sources from grid-tied power sources, such as wind and solar, the grid needs to be re-engineered. Load balancing is a part of this. Decentralized power has some enormous advantages.

Re:A lot more needs to be done to the grid (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297528)

No the grid does not have to be re-engineered. All the inter-ties for micro-power already exist. All the laws are already on the books.

The technology already exists.

3rd world status? (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297424)

This kind of thing sounds like something that normally would happen in a 3rd world country, not the US or Canada. Are we really to the point where we have to start shutting off hot water heaters because we don't want to re-invest in the electrical infra-structure?

I'm all for more energy efficient appliances. I've got all compact fluorescents, have an automatic thermostat, and my computers power off when not in use. But not having hot water, or raising the temperature by 4 degrees? Forget about it.

Re:3rd world status? (3, Insightful)

belg4mit (152620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297482)

Would you set a kettle on to boil all day, in the off chance you might want a cup of tea too?
Frugality is a virtue, gluttony is not.

Re:3rd world status? (3, Interesting)

jmv (93421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297834)

There's two issues here. One is reducing the total energy consumed (i.e. not using it at all) and the other is reducing the peak power (choosing when to use energy). The former is always useful. The latter mainly works around infrastructure problems. In terms of reducing emissions, the only reasons I can see for changing when to use energy is to balance the load for "green" energy like wind/solar that aren't available all the time.

Re:3rd world status? (2, Insightful)

blitziod (591194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297504)

we should also mandate all new water heaters be tankless by 2015, or sooner. they save 8-27 % on energy for heating water. If the eco nuts would stop bothering SUV drivers and try to mandate changes that save consumers money WITHOUT drastic changes to lifestyle we could conserve a lot more.

Re:3rd world status? (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297646)


we should also mandate all new water heaters be tankless by 2015, or sooner

Maybe on new construction, but it's not a simple plugin replacement for a tank. Anyway, why choose a particular technology over another? If you care about energy efficiency, just mandate that the efficiency of the water heaters be above a certain percent. We do it with refrigerators, why not water heaters?

No but it could be used to keep costs down (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297694)

One problem is that the peak and average demand on the power grid are quite different. Obviously we have to build the grid to handle the peak, or we'll get blackouts/brownouts. Now what something like this could do is help reduce peak demand. Try to balance things out so that there isn't as much usage during peak times. This in turn means we don't have to spend so much money building out more electrical distribution and production.

This is already done on a large scale in the US. For example grid controllers will talk to a company about shutting down part or all of their usage at a certain time. A good candidate might be something like a food processing/storage facility. The controllers ask them to shut down their coolers at the time when homes are kicking up their usage (like around 4-7 PM). This isn't a problem for the company, they just cool it down a bit more before hand, and the temperature stays low enough.

Well a similar thing could be applied to houses as well, in theory. Shut down or reduce certain things during peak times, or zone the usage so only part of the homes in a given area are using it at once.

I'm not saying it is a cure-all or that we want it doing things like shutting down air conditioners for 3 hours in the desert or something, but there is potential to balance things out better and thus save money.

Re:No but it could be used to keep costs down (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297774)


Well a similar thing could be applied to houses as well, in theory. Shut down or reduce certain things during peak times, or zone the usage so only part of the homes in a given area are using it at once.

I'm sure you can do such a thing. The question in my mind is.. why? Electricity usage isn't new. Why are we looking at this now? Are people using a lot more electricity per capita these days? If so, why? All my appliances are becoming more efficient, so I'm likely using less power. Find the root of the problem rather than trying to fix symptoms.

I'm not saying it is a cure-all or that we want it doing things like shutting down air conditioners for 3 hours in the desert or something, but there is potential to balance things out better and thus save money.

I guess my response to that is, stop building in the desert.

Re:No but it could be used to keep costs down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297924)

Well there are things that you likely have running during the day, that you don't need to. Your TV and VCR, for example. Stand by mode does consume energy. Typically, this is done for two reasons. 1) Presets, 2) Quick response.

I'm pretty much with you, in that I don't think this is a grid problem.

However, I do think it is a device issue. Presets are the only thing that matters. Your TV does not need to quickly respond to power on while you're at work. Your water heater probably doesn't need to keep that water as hot as it normally does during the day, and it's common practice to have two settings for AC units. One during the day, when no one's home, and one for at night, when you are. Your computer can, frankly, be turned off when you aren't there, unless you use it for downloading or remotely access it and such.. Fans also can be turned off, as they do -nothing- when you aren't around.

You ask "Why are we looking at this now?" Well, if you mean specifically a dynamic powergrid system... Why not? But if you mean conserving energy in general, it probably has something to do with unsustainability and money. Energy star appliances have been released for YEARS. This may just well be the next progression in this effort. Thus, we aren't looking at this now for any other reason than we have already been looking at it.

My senior project (1)

gQuigs (913879) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297448)

is designed to bring Demand Response to the data center. It's called Demand Response Application for Power Event Scheduling.

Oh yea.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demand_response [wikipedia.org]

The first (horrible) PoC is available on launchpad.

All of this is possible now (2, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297500)

Nothing new here.

First consumers can already "make choices about how and when to consume power".

Second, Utility company cut-offs to high-load things like water heaters already exist. Energy suppliers in some ares pay you a small amount to have the ability to drop your water heater elements during peak usage (cooking time and high air conditioning loads).

There is nothing suggested in TFA that does not already exist.

The most immediate single change that the average consumer can impliment is CFL lightbulbs. These are so effective that some Power companies PAY for the bulbs for you.

Re:All of this is possible now (2, Interesting)

shermo (1284310) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297556)

Firstly, Consumers can "make choices about how and when to consume power" but they currently have no incentive to do so. Smart meters give them that incentive. Secondly, Water heater control isn't as great as it was, (I'm unsure of the reason for this, presumably they make up an increasingly smaller proportion of electricity bills) and is being dropped from most security of supply legislation.

Re:All of this is possible now (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297794)

Firstly, Consumers can "make choices about how and when to consume power" but they currently have no incentive to do so.
O rly? Last I heard there was an incentive.

It's called "the electric bill."

Re:All of this is possible now (3, Insightful)

blitziod (591194) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297564)

it sounds like what we have in this country is a shortage of capital. Rich people all have the best insulation, etc because they can afford to spend the initial big bucks to save more down the road. But this hurts us all because most people can not. We need an orginazation to provide more capital for poor or working class americans to conserve. This would help the economy and the enviroment, plus ease financial burdens on lower income households.

Re:All of this is possible now (3, Funny)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297640)

True.
It takes money to save money.

In Washington State, power companies (Puget Sound Energy for example) paid for all the CFL bulbs you could carry away as long as you paid the sales tax on the bulb.

These things are do-able today, without major changes to the grid, or the buildings, or anything else.

Of course, CFL bulbs are not without a down-side, namely the mercury in side. Power companies are also stepping up to recycle those, but I bet most end up in the trash.

Re:All of this is possible now (2, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298078)

I wonder if there would be a lot of interest both from lenders and potential borrowers to create a "green" microcredit program? A quick google search for green microcredit doesn't reveal anything interesting, but basically is there a program that lends people money at a low interest rate to invest in various energy saving technologies around the house? The borrowers could then take the savings and use them to pay back the lenders. It wouldn't be a charity, nor would it be a particularly great investment, but it would, in my opinion, do a lot to help convince people to switch to more energy efficient technologies.

Re:All of this is possible now (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297854)

CFLs cause a lot of polution for minimum value. If you want to change tech, go straight for LED. Almost no waste, highly efficient power-wise and will last for years without replacement.

Re:All of this is possible now (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297986)

Not a solution till the are common on the shelves.

You still cant find them in the stores to any reliable degree.

Re:All of this is possible now (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298048)

True, but CFLs aren't a good answer either, due to the mercury. I'd stick with normal bulbs until LEDs come out. Its just a matter of productizing it, the tech has been there for a while.

Couple of points (1)

shermo (1284310) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297524)

The price of power changes hourly/halfhourly (depending on where you are in the world). Currently residential users aren't exposed to that price variability, it's all absorbed by the retailers (of power). My understanding is that smart metering is primarily designed to move to a user pays scheme that's based on that halfhourly price. Yes, there will be the ability to automatically cut power to certain appliances, but this is a good thing because you'll be exposed to the higher cost of electricity. Power prices regularly double/triple or more through the course of a day, and smart metering will allow you to plan your cooking/washing/drying when the price is lowest. For smart users this should result in a lower power bill. Of course the actual cost might not be any lower due to the cost of the smart meters. However, in the long run this fewer peaking plants (plants that only run sporadically when demand is high) will need to be built, and this is why governments concerned with green issues push smart meters, even if they're not economical.

Re:Couple of points (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297898)

There is better choice for peak demand plants:

Connect two lakes and pump up from lower to higher on off hours. Flow down generating electric power for demand periods. Already done in MO and CA.

This would also work well with large sun "fired" plants. They create power when sun in sky, create too much, and pump water during day. Generated electric power during the dark hours.

--

Is there truly a price difference?
Cost of oil is constant in oil fired plant. Yes, cost is rising but the morning oil is no more costly than evening oil.
Cost of coal is constant in coal fired plant.
Cost of nuclear is constant.
Cost of water is constant. But can also support reverse electric --> water potential.
Cost of geothermal is constant.
Cost of sun is constant.
Cost of wind is constant.

What is not constant is usage. By making demand even over 24hrs, makes starting and stopping plant a non-issue. Just as stop and go traffic used more gas than highway, stopping and starting a plant uses / wastes energy. So if you store energy instead and it is quickly reversible, then you have a method to handle peak load and run all plants at maximum efficiency. Only water to date has method to store electric power.

 

Save Power Maybe, Cost More Longterm You Bet! (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297526)

Shedding load during peak periods for large industrial users truly makes a difference, and economically pays off for both utilities and them.

However, for individual consumers, long-term, a "smart" grid that controls people's appliances will probably cost residential users much more than what they're paying now.

Right now, I can turn on any device in my home and know it will cost me exactly the same price per KWH to run regardless of what the appliance or what time it is.

Contrast that with demand-based pricing in which utilities can place appliances into various rate classifications, as well as of course charge dramatically different rates depending on the time, or even the duration of use.

Ie. a really greedy utility, say for running an air conditioner, could charge a higher rate per KWH for simply running the unit regardless of the time of day due to its high energy draw, plus then bulk the rate up even more depending on the time of day it's run, plus then up top of all of that, bulk the rate up even further for running the unit for too long of duration at a time.

In short, one could find themself being nickled and dimed and ultimately paying much more ... flat-rate for most people is a better deal, if they want comfort ... or as another poster lemented, perhaps the U.S. is well on its way to becoming a 3rd world country, but I digress.

The way the power grid is structured now makes such demand based pricing for *residential* users unnecessary, since industrial loads tend to run somewhat opposite times of residential loads. And during peak periods, many large industrial users have already agreed to shed load automatically, so why should residential users be burdened ... they shouldn't.

Rambling on ... in my view, to reiterate, the main drivers of demand-based pricing is greed - utilities will likely, long-term, earn much more with demand-based pricing, and also "feel good" environmentalism driven more by emotion than facts.

Ron

Re:Save Power Maybe, Cost More Longterm You Bet! (1)

shermo (1284310) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297604)

The way the power grid is structured now makes such demand based pricing for *residential* users unnecessary, since industrial loads tend to run somewhat opposite times of residential loads. And during peak periods, many large industrial users have already agreed to shed load automatically, so why should residential users be burdened ... they shouldn't.
Why do you say demand based pricing is unnecessary for residential users? Total grid load still increases during peak residential customter usage periods (5pm-8pm). The main driver behind smart metering in my part of the world is the Government, and although I share your cynical view of big business, I think this is one situation where the main driver isn't greed.

Re:Save Power Maybe, Cost More Longterm You Bet! (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297666)

I'm glad it works some places, but in the U.S. greed rules the day - demand-based pricing, long-term, will cost most Americans more.

In regards to my comment about it being unnecessary for residential users, that's very simple ... if industrial users shed load during peak periods, residential users don't have to...

And keep in mind that even just one large industrial user shedding some load is equivalent to all the electrical usage of hundreds, if not many thousands, of residential users combined.

Ron

Want to save power? (4, Interesting)

jjh37997 (456473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297576)

Do you want to save power - here's an easy solution, make devices that actually TURN OFF. Most TVs, DVD players and other electrical devices use almost as much power when they are "off" as they do when they are on. While some devices always need to be on (e.g. tivos, routers, etc...) most would work just as well if there was a way to turn them fully off.

Re:Want to save power? (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297950)

TIVOs can truly turn off. An "alarm clock" circuit running on rechargeable batteries, can be use to bring the system back on line with time to spare to record a show. Use a WAKE-ON-LAN for network activation.

Home routers can be built the same way. With flash memory holding the last on-image a quick reload can happening as needed. Power down after say 5 minutes of not activity.

Remove wireless circuit to again be battery powered. With auto-activation for re-charge when they run low. This way, they are low power usage for long periods with all short recharge. Though there was a /. in last day or so, talking about solar for wireless, Self maintaining without power grid. Currently done for volcano monitoring stations.

Re:Want to save power? (2, Informative)

subreality (157447) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297980)

I think you're mixing your stories up. Most devices continue to use a small trickle of power even when they're soft-off, on the order of a watt or two. That's still a problem worth investigating, but it's only a small number of devices that use more than a few percent of their on power when they're soft-off.

Is it wise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297582)

Do you really want someone else deciding that you can only run your A/C at night when it's cool, but not during the day when it's hot? I don't see the point of that.

Nor am I thrilled with the idea that I might not be able to have hot water when I want it.

Do you really want someone else to control the appliances in your house?

Of course not, but that is the goal. In california, they are trying to pass legislation to do just that, in the name of saving power.

I personally want to be able to decide that I need this shirt clean for a presentation in an hour, and not having someone else, or some impassive technology say "well it's nice you want to wash that, but it's peak hour, sorry, you can't"

It's a good idea, it might be workable, as long as the freedom of choice of the end user is left in the loop. As long as it's not a step in the direction of giving the power of your comfort to some faceless bureaucrat. I just don't believe the technology and ability is so limited that people have to suffer.

It is not my fault that the government officials don't plan for the future, but only make plans that get them past the next election. Make their life miserable, not mine.

Good idea, that could be generalized (1)

franois-do (547649) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297584)

It is clearly a good idea to modulate the price of commodities and associate some automatic actions with the time modulation of prices. That is already done in a crude fashion (just two or three levels) with peak-hour power or telephone rates, but making things happen "on demand" (after all, lowering prices means that a resource asks to be more consumed ;-) ) could be even better.

However, in order to avoid congestion, it would probably be wise to introduce a random delay between the availability of a lower cost and the moment to use it, just like devices do with Ethernet, in ordre to avoid storms.

Also, a phone with a LED telling me : Â Hey, why not call now ? The prices are suddenly cheap ! Â would be an excellent way to introduce some sense of opportunity in a world having too many things decided just by clock considerations.

Re:Good idea, that could be generalized (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297876)

And the cost of the extra computer hardware, connectivity, and electricity to drive those things would probably cost more in both cash and resources than the way things are now.

Think of the mad scientists! (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297682)

Frankenstien: It lives! It liiiiives!

*blackout*

Frigingstain: Who the frack turned down the lights!

Igor: It'sh ze shmart electric grid, shir.

Frinkenstoin: Ok hunchie, turn down the smoke machine and let's try again.

mod Do3n (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23297908)

Smells like over engineering (1)

Iloinen Lohikrme (880747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23297994)

This smells like over engineering. The real problem is that there isn't enough power generation capacity and transmissions lines in place. Even if you make the network 'smarter', you don't fix these things. Actually I really can't understand why this is even a problem that should be addressed this way. You have 300 million people in US and you can statistically calculate when and where you need power, all you need after that is enough production and transmission capacity, balanced with a billing that has simple, but powerful enough schema to shape energy consuming. In example here in Finland many homes use seasonal pricing where there is one price for winter weekdays in 07-22, and one price for rest of the time. This scheme allows homes to warm water and houses at night, and power companies to lower load at business hours and keep the load higher at night.

The real question that should be asked, what does this tell about electricity companies and the environment they are working where they can't or want to use the simplest and efficient way to solve the energy problem? And no, this is not about carbon emissions, as new power generation capacity in form of nuclear, hydro and renewable energy solve that problem together very neatly.

How it works in france (2, Informative)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 6 years ago | (#23298198)

1st Step :
~75% of power is nuclear generated

2nd Step :
At around 11.30 pm and until 7 am (or so), you pay less for your electricity.
That means every one sets their tank based water heater to automatically use only night hours power.
(you can still switch to manual if you run out of hot water).
That way, all those heaters are off from peak hours usage.
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