State officials in Vermont made an announcement on Thursday that the state’s utilities and regulatory agencies are prepared to go ahead with establishing a ’smart grid’, with or without federal funding. Of course, without the extra $66 million, the project will take far longer to get up and running.
Setting up a ’smart grid’ is a daunting task, which requires the installation of specialized electric meters in homes, running fiber optic connections to them, and setting up systems for gathering data from the meters. The idea behind the system is to use the data that is gathered to help reduce both the cost and use of electricity.
One of the potential issues with the new ’smart grid’ is the use of electricity to heat water in homes and provide heating and cooling. These issues have been problematic when formulating a plan to slow the usage of electricity in homes around the state. With emerging technologies, the smart grid would allow homeowners to use power for these things while both reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the generation process and without increasing demand during peak usage times.
The project, which is projected to cost around $133 million, would be completed in approximately three years with the help of federal funding. About half of the cost would be shouldered by the utility companies, with the other half coming from stimulus funds.
According to Mary Powell of Green Mountain Power, customers in Vermont are already up to speed on the savings that they will see from the smart grid. By using the smart meters and tracking usage, a homeowner would be able to adjust their power usage to off-peak times.
Another advantage of the smart grid is that a company can easily integrate renewable power sources into the system and activate them when necessary, unlike nuclear or fossil fuel sources, which run constantly.