Smart Metering and the Smart Grid
What is a Smart Meter?
A smart meter is an advanced electricity meter that identifies consumption in more detail than a conventional meter. In addition, these meters communicate consumption information, via some type of network back to the local utility for monitoring and billing purposes. These smart meters play a pivotal role in the adoption of a smart grid.
Since the inception of electricity deregulation and market-driven pricing throughout the US, government regulators have been looking for a means to match electricity consumption with generation. Traditional electrical meters simply measure total consumption and do not provide real time information as to when the energy was consumed. Smart meters provide an economical way of reporting electrical consumption in short time increments over a day, allowing utilities to charge higher prices for consumption during periods of high demand and lower prices during periods of low demand. Since electricity pricing usually peaks at certain predictable times of the day and the season the fee charged customers better reflects the value of the commodity being purchased. I It is believed that smart meter billing will help consumers to adjust their consumption habits to be more responsive to the availability of electricity. Regulatory and market design agencies hope that these adjustments in consumption will lower demand during peak times and delay the construction of additional generation plants thereby controlling the steady and rapid increase of electricity prices.
Smart Meters in Use
When a utility or a home adds solar photovoltaic energy generation, then the peak times are shifted and much more electricity is available during the daytime, shifting the utility’s high and low demand patterns. Through its work with the University of Arizona Solar Decathlon Team, and research faculty at The University of Arizona, AzRISE has been involved in further developing smart meter technologies for market applications. In particular, the Solar Decathlon Team’s house will feature smart metering technologies that monitor the energy consumption of the home on the individual circuit level many times per second.
Smart metering technologies will play a key role in the implementation of a smart grid, as well as more intricate utility rate pricing models. The smart meters are important because they deliver the real time consumption information that is needed in planning and implementing all the downstream aspects of such projects.
AzRISE will next look at how this technology can be incorporated into a smart structure that combines renewable energy generation with advanced storage technologies. This analysis will look into what combination of technologies will return optimal financial benefits, as well as minimize the required generation of energy.
Information gathered from the smart meter is being combined with measurement of the energy being generated by the PV panels using advanced control software that enables the house to match electricity consumption with PV energy generation. In other words, the house will reduce its electricity consumption during times of low solar production in order to ensure that it can run off the amount of electricity being produced by the solar panels.
Frank Barnes (Univ. Colorado)