Will Accept Smart Grid In Lieu Of Jetpack

So, it’s almost 2010 and there’s no sign of my jetpack. That’s fine, it probably wasn’t such a great idea anyway (it would suck to commute in the rain). What I am excited about is smart power grids.

Working in the IT world, I’m accustomed to instrumenting a network with monitoring and trending data to keep tabs on performance and identify trouble spots. If a server’s network port is throwing a lot of errors, I want to know. I also want to know who in the office is running BitTorrent and degrading everyone else’s web browsing. It’s only natural that I’d want to do the same for the power “network” in my house. I can run around with my Kill-A-Watt and measure single devices, but I really would like to see the trend of power usage for my whole house, and maybe even per circuit breaker– how cool would that be? There’s nothing like good trending data to help focus one’s effort.

I was happy to read in this Washington Post article that my local utility, BG&E, already has some technology available. That said, I’m a little leery of the smart thermostat that lets the power company turn off my AC for up to four hours. I understand why it’s helpful, but it’s a bit creepy. Ideally I’d like to see cheap, simple monitors that can be attached to individual AC circuits around the house (or maybe right outside the breaker panel) because circuits typically are allotted to functional components (lights, outlets) and/or areas of the house (second floor lights, living room outlets). Then I could see how the total usage reported by my smart meter breaks down, helping me focus my energy saving efforts (and dollars) where they will have maximum effect.

I’m encouraged by the adoption of open standards for smart grid technology, which leads me to hope that I’ll be able to access the data being generated and make my own graphs. Hey, I’m a geek, that’s what I do.

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