Friday, October 18, 2013

Building Support and Knowledge for Smart Grid Investments: This Just In

By Patty Durand, Executive Director, SGCC

On Oct. 8 we released our latest report,
Smart Grid Economic and Environmental Benefits: A Review and Synthesis of Research on Smart Grid Benefits and Costs, which is available for download at no charge. Our intent is to provide consumer and environmental advocates with real numbers in order to build knowledge and support for investments in a smarter grid. We expected, and this report shows, that such investments pays big dividends to individuals as well as society.

By conducting a careful meta-analysis of existing data, we outline the value to be found from the economic, environmental, reliability and customer choice benefits of a smart grid. Wherever possible we present the findings in terms of the metric “per customer per year,” based on actual data from smart grid deployments.
We analyzed investments along a spectrum of nine smart grid capabilities. The Smart Grid capabilities with the highest economic and environmental benefits are:

·                     Integrated Volt/VAr Control
·                     Remote meter reading
·                     Time-varying rates

Some Smart Grid capabilities, such as the ability to integrate higher percentages of renewables, have the potential to produce savings and environmental benefits well in excess of these benefits; however, more research is needed to fully quantify this potential.

An important concept in the report is Net Present Value (NPV), which is an analytical technique for converting future benefits and costs into present-day dollars for comparative purposes. The report provides a NPV for a conservative “Reference Case” projection as well as for a more optimistic “Ideal Case.” We found the ratio of benefits to costs ranges from 1.5 to 1 in the Reference Case and 2.6 to 1 in the Ideal Case.

This report was written in a lay-reader friendly style so that non-experts can use the findings to understand utility investment decisions as well as generally understanding smart grid concepts. We also prepared a guide for technical terms to be used in conjunction with the report for those needing more help understanding the concepts that exists within the U.S. electric grid. That publication, Technicaland Economic Concepts Related to the Smart Grid – A Guide for Consumers, is a companion resource for the new report.

How do each of the Smart Grid capabilities contribute to available benefits?

In summary, the key findings of the study are:
  • Smart Grid capabilities offer significant cost savings, on the order of $89.36-154.65 per customer per year.
  • Smart Grid capabilities also offer environmental benefits, reducing CO2e emissions per customer by 55-592 lbs per year.
  • Smart Grid capabilities increase reliability by 25%, or 27.2 minutes of avoided outages per customer per year.

In closing, I’d like to add that SGCC research reports have been garnering substantial power industry attention. I had the opportunity to write a piece calling attention to our latest findings for Renew Grid, while and Fierce SmartGrid ran their own articles, Electric Light & Power and Yahoo! Finance ran our press release and Smart Grid Network linked directly to the new report. I’d like to thank these publications for their interest in our work.

Further traction is up to each and every one of us. Please assist us in sharing this report with your colleagues and constituents so its findings are widely read and fully understood. Please also join us for our fall webinar series at

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Is Smart Grid?

By Patty Durand, executive director, SGCC

To the many members who took the time to travel to DC and be with us for our annual member’s meeting, thank you! It was great to reconnect or connect with you. This was the first one we have done that went for two days, which we did because we wanted to share with details of our exciting new Smart Grid Energy Corps program and ask for your help on writing a consumer value proposition (details to come in future blogs).

For now I want to share with you details on the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative’s new consumer-oriented Web portal,  We toured our members through this website in detail at the member’s meeting and I want to share it with you now.
This website was created for average consumers: we present factual insights in an accessible format to raise awareness and understand of what the smart grid is, and help explain the value of smart grid-related investments for consumers through this website.

First, the home page interactively engages visitors on the aggregate value of incremental energy efficiency efforts by demonstrating graphically what a 9 percent energy savings by individuals could mean collectively.  For instance, we offer the insight that Las Vegas consumes a staggering 423 billion kilowatt hours each year and show how a 9 percent drop in individual energy use across the nation could power 207 cities of Las Vegas’ scale. Or that the same amount of electricity could power an electric vehicle 1.7 trillion miles, equivalent to 70 million laps around the Earth.  That’s far! We use examples like these to bring the 9 percent energy savings to a human scale that consumers can relate to.

The site includes a link to the 423 billion kilowatt hour “factoid” that takes the curious visitor to the Energy Information Administration website to learn about electricity demand, including the fact that residential and commercial energy use largely accounts for growth in demand. In other words, the American consumer could take minor steps to curb wasteful use and save themselves a little money, with outsized results on the cost of utility systems and environmental impacts.

Scroll down and the visitor sees four self-selecting choices under “What Kind of Energy Consumer Are You?” The choices correspond to motivational categories that most energy consumers belong to as determined by our Smart Grid Consumer Pulse and Segmentation research. Visitors choose the statement that best describes themselves such as “I want to learn more,” “I care about the environment,” “I care about saving money” and/or “I want to be empowered.”

The most exciting part to me is our consumer testimonial portal, which is a video-based platform called “Submit Your Own Story” and is a way for consumers to relate their positive experiences with smart grid to other consumers. Giving consumers the means to speak directly to their peers should produce credible and fascinating results, we hope. To help raise visibility we are offering a $25 incentive to anyone who submits a story.

Americans are open to the logic that small steps that both help themselves and have an impact on the greater good are worth exploring. And they need solid, unbiased, factual information to make informed choices. That is a role the SGCC will continue to play through its research, outreach and this new consumer-facing portal which gives people access to the simplest, straightforward facts in an easy, fun format. Let people decide for themselves how much they want or need to know and make it easy for them to learn and access the next level of information.  Please help us get this website in front of everyone we can by including it in your newsletter, tweets, blogs, and web links.  Click here: