Smart Grid – The Big Picture
Article courtesy of BGE
Since the development of the nation’s energy grid, nearly 200 years ago, the fundamentals of energy delivery and the way energy usage is measured hasn’t changed that much. In recent years, however, modern technology has been incorporated into the energy grid allowing two-way communication and real-time monitoring to give utilities and customers better ways to manage delivery, usage and safety.
Many of you are aware that BGE, like many other utilities across the country, is installing smart meters. These meters – the heart of a more modern, efficient and reliable grid – are part of a nationwide effort to bring our energy distribution system to the 21st century.
While it’s true that electrical appliances and products are more efficient than they were years ago, the fact is that there are more of these products plugged into the grid than ever before and the demand for electricity continues to grow. According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, it’s projected that by 2035, there will be a 30 percent increase in electricity demand. Modernizing the grid now is foundational to meeting future demand and allowing for better communication between more sophisticated systems and devices.
For example, smart appliances, electric vehicles and whole house monitoring systems (which are being sold today) are dependent on an energy grid that is capable of capturing detailed usage information and sharing that information with consumers. BGE will soon introduce its Smart Energy Manager, an online portal, to give customers with smart meters better tools to manage their energy usage, which can help customers identify opportunities to maximize convenience and comfort, conserve energy and save on their energy bill.
Additionally, a smarter grid can also assist with reliability through outage alerts. Many utilities, including BGE, still rely on a phone call from the customer to learn about outages. While smart meters will assist with our outage restoration efforts, we will still want customers to call us – even if they believe their neighbors have reported the outage already. The more first-hand information we receive about the outage situation, the better we can plan for restoration.
As BGE adds smarter components to our distribution system, we fully anticipate customers having an interest in learning more about these devices and any potential impacts to energy use. Our smart grid and smart meter Web pages on bge.com provide answers to common questions and highlight facts about smart meter-related topics. We are actively speaking with community groups where installations are taking place, as well as sharing brochures and videos to inform customers.
BGE is just one of many utilities working to enhance its local energy delivery system – it’s already estimated that there are more than 30 million smart meters in use across the country. As smart meters and other innovative tools begin to work together across the grid, customers and utilities can work together to make America’s electric system more efficient, reliable and secure.