There’s growing interest, both nationally and locally, in creating a “smart grid” – which typically means the various computerized systems that might be used to improve the electrical system and help customers manage electricity use.
These technologies show promise for the future, but right now many new smart grid technologies are still very expensive and unproven as far as the benefits they’d bring to our customers.
Opportunities and challenges
As a regulated utility, we aren’t in the position to do research and development, but we constantly evaluate technologies as they’re available. We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars to install the best of these to upgrade our system.
We’re now studying several smart grid technologies that appear to offer the most benefits to customers and are most easily added to the existing electrical system:
- advanced metering systems;
- systems that provide information to devices that customers own to control energy use;
- improved outage management systems; and
- advanced technologies to increase the efficiency and reliability of the regional transmission system and local distribution systems.
And we’re paying close attention to smart grid pilot projects that are happening around the country to see how challenges such as a lack of standard equipment and software and keeping data secure are overcome.
Using energy efficiently today
In order to reap the benefits of a smart grid, you’ll need to take action based on the information that will become available – for instance, changing when and how you use electricity and taking steps to increase energy efficiency at your home or business.
You can take advantage of energy efficiency programs we have available now. These programs help you reduce energy use with proven technologies such as high-efficiency lighting and efficient heating/ cooling equipment.