Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stuffed Animals and Smart Grid Anyone?

“I looked through Toys-R-Us and could not find a single stuffed smart meter.”

The above quote was a humorous way of describing the power industry’s challenge in selling the benefits of the smart grid to consumers and it came on day two of the Gridwise Global Forum in Washington D.C.

The forum has been abuzz with discussion of “killer apps” and self-healing networks. But during this session, leading minds from Intel Corp., Accenture, Battelle and OPOWER talked through the need to make sure the customer is not lost in the cold data.

Dr. Mani Vadari, vice president of Energy Infrastructure for Battelle Energy Technology, went so far as to suggest a consumer bill of rights for the smart grid. He outlined seven expectations:
  • Expectation of privacy
  • Expectation of transparency
  • Expectation of security
  • Expectation of anonymity
  • Expectation of choice
  • Expectation of sharing
  • Expectation of data
Other speakers commented that the industry understands smart grid technology, how to collect information and the best way to process this data and report back to customers. However, few have figured out how to trigger consumers to reflect on the data in front of them.

Fiona Sim, the director of the Intel Open Energy Initiative, said that her company is experimenting with smart grid imagery that people can connect with. For example, Intel’s employees can see how much energy they are using at work through a picture of a flower on their computer desktop. When the flower is bright and upright, employees have optimized their energy usage. When the flower wilts, they need to make a change.

Throughout the session, there was general agreement that the electric power industry and the consultants who serve it understand that customer power is the key to smart grid success. The way to harness this power is still up for discussion.

-- Potomac Communications Group

No comments:

Post a Comment