Aging electrical meters

Modernizing the U.S.' antiquated electrical grid is a task that will likely take decades to complete, but at least we're off to a good start with more than five million smart meters installed nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Smart meter technology allows consumers to monitor energy consumption and costs and, in some cases, easily enables owners of plug-in vehicles to charge up at off-peak (i.e., nighttime) rates.

What's more, an analysis conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute suggests that smart grid technology could reduce our nation's electrical usage by more than four percent annually by 2030, resulting in a savings of $20.4 billion for consumers and a tiny sliver of that cash would undoubtedly go to plug-in vehicle owners.

With millions of plug-in vehicles forecasted to hit U.S. streets in the years that lie ahead, the installation of smart meters is vital to reduce vehicle operating costs and make the transition to battery-powered autos more affordable.
[Source: U.S. Department of Energy | Image: this lucid moment – C.C. License 2.0]
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Five Million Smart Meters are Installed Nationwide

More than five million smart meters have been installed nationwide as part of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded efforts to accelerate modernization of the U.S. electric grid, DOE reported on June 13. Smart meters provide utility companies with greater information about how much electricity is being used throughout their service areas. The meters also give consumers access to real-time information about their energy consumption, allowing them to make informed decisions about how they use their electricity.

Transforming the current electric grid into a more intelligent system involves a wide range of advanced technologies, including smart meters, which will improve the reliability and security of the grid. Such meters will allow for the integration of renewable energy sources and help prevent blackouts and restore power more quickly when outages occur. Nearly 90% of the meters installed to date are in Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Texas.

In one project being implemented to help consumers manage their electricity, Florida Power & Light Company is deploying an advanced metering infrastructure; as of April 30, the company had installed 1.8 million smart meters. A project of CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric involves deploying a fully integrated advanced metering system and Web portal access to over 2.2 million customers; the company has installed 1.3 million smart meters.

DOE also announced a plan to create a data map that will allow consumers to contribute data and information about their electricity provided by their utility companies. The map will show where quality information is available nationwide based on voluntary consumer input. DOE will work with stakeholders during the summer to design the website that will launch in the fall. See the DOE press release and the SmartGrid.gov website.