Emily Tregidgo – emt2179
1. Sustainability Problem: Energy
As it currently stands, the majority of electricity is generated from non-renewable, greenhouse-gas emitting sources (e.g. coal) and the process of electricity generation to transmission and consumption is very inefficient. Electricity (and the energy system more broadly) therefore presents many concerns surrounding sustainability. There are a handful of supply-side technologies that have been implemented to address these concerns, such as the introduction of renewable energy to the grid. There are also demand-side management technologies that have been introduced – that is, technologies that assist in assessing and reducing the grid’s load (customer demand). Smart meters are one such technology.
2. Sustainability Technology: Smart Meters
Smart meters are integrated into the existing electricity system and utility networks. ConEdison began installing smart meters in its service territory in 2017. They plan to have installed almost 5 million smart meters by 2022 – they have completed their installation of smart meters in Staten Island and Westchester county, and their work is ongoing in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.
- Conventional meters collect monthly customer consumption data that is shared with ConEdison. Customers are then able to see their monthly consumption reflected on their utility bills.
- In contrast, smart meters collect near-real-time usage data (intervals of 15 minutes for electricity). Furthermore, customers are able to monitor and analyze their consumption data via a dashboard, allowing for real-time assessment of their consumption and trends that may be driving costs.
- The granularity and frequency of data availability from smart meters allow for more effective electricity demand management. In theory, smart meters encourage consumers to reduce and/or shift their electricity demand to off-peak hours, and to modify their usage of electricity-intensive appliances. In turn, a lower load on the grid will call for less electricity generation, resulting in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Smart meter data benefits ConEdison as well, as trend analysis enables them to anticipate and accordingly prepare for future consumption and surge patterns.
There are a variety of stakeholders involved in smart meters:
- ConEdison itself is a stakeholder
- ConEdison customers – both customers who opt in to using the smart meters and those who choose to continue using conventional meters
- ConEdison’s contractors that install the smart meters
- Renewable energy generators, as they must understand the metering systems in place when they interconnect with their customers
- Regulatory and oversight boards – for example, ConEdison adheres to privacy standards set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology
4. Technology Implementation
ConEdison is implementing smart meters via a phased roll-out, opt-in model. The completion of installation in two of its six sub-service areas implies that it has obtained the appropriate approvals for the purchase and use of these meters. The bulk of what remains surrounds:
1) Marketing to customers (particularly residential customers who can choose to opt-out of using smart meters) to encourage uptake.
2) Once customers sign up, ConEdison works with its contractors and the customer(s) to set up a time to have the meter installed. Furthermore, ConEdison must ensure their contractors have appropriate insurance policies in place.
3) Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the meter is also required.