4 Ways a Smarter Electric Grid Benefits You

Over the last decade, energy companies have spent billions modernizing our electric grid. This has involved installing smart technologies, like smart meters and sensors, to optimize the delivery of power to your home and making other improvements, such as adding battery storage or undergrounding power lines, to boost the reliability and performance of the grid.

These improvements are collectively known as “grid modernization” and are a key part of creating a smarter and cleaner energy future. However, according to a recent survey, most Americans are unaware of steps that are being taken to develop a modern electric grid, despite the vast majority (87 percent of respondents) believing that it’s important to update our grid.

In this month’s blog, we look at four ways a smarter grid benefits you:

1. Energy data can power hundreds of dollars of savings.

Like other areas of society, there has also been a data revolution in the energy industry in recent years. In the past, before smart meters, energy companies generally only sent data to customers in the form of monthly bills that provided basic information, such as the total amount of energy consumed and the dollar amount owed.

But, if you have a smart meter, you have more access to your energy data than ever before. This data can help you learn more about how you’re using electricity at home. By viewing your daily energy consumption data, you can adjust your daily patterns to save money, while staying comfortable. You may also be able to see which areas of your home are using the most energy and swap these devices and appliances out for more for energy-efficient versions.

2. The smart grid is enabling the adoption of clean energy technologies.

As we look to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions, the smart grid is serving as a foundation for integrating clean energy technologies, such solar panels, battery storage and wind turbines, that can be located on homes or throughout the community. Smart grids are needed to manage these geographically scattered renewable energy sources, and without a smart grid, this clean energy would not be able to be distributed when and where it’s needed.

The smart grid is also helping us prepare for the electric vehicle (EV) revolution. As millions of Americans purchase EVs in the coming years, they will need to charge these vehicles with electricity at home and in their communities. This could present issues with an older grid in need of modernization. However, smart grids are better able to handle the fluctuations in energy demand around your community. The smart grid can even allow for energy stored in EV batteries to go back into the grid when needed.

3. There are now many power pricing options for you to choose from.

In the past, there’s typically been just one way to pay for the electricity you use at home – a fixed price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity no matter when you use it or how much you use for the month. With these plans, the majority of your monthly bill is total electricity used (in kWh) multiplied by a consistent price, such as 15 cents (roughly the national average). In addition to this, there are usually some fees and surcharges related to the power grid that ultimately give you your total bill amount.

However, with the evolution of the smart grid, many consumers now have a range of options in how they’re charged for electricity. In general, these new rate plans seek to better align consumption of electricity with clean energy generation and increase the reliability of the power grid. From time-of-use to subscription rates, these plans can better fit your household’s energy needs and may be able to help you save money each month.

4. A smarter electric grid helps keep your power on at home.

Finally, grid modernization is helping increase the reliability of the grid in several ways. If you have a smart meter and your power goes out, your energy company is immediately alerted. Before smart meters, the only way energy companies knew that customers were without power was when they called. Now, many customers are finding service trucks showing up to restore power without even reporting an outage. 

As extreme weather events increase, there are other grid modernization efforts underway that help improve the reliability of the grid. These include building out more high-voltage transmission wires, installing sensors at various points of the grid, burying power lines in certain areas and adding battery storage to the grid, which can help stabilize the power supply. These efforts and others are helping the lights stay on and come back on quicker if an outage does occur.

The world of energy is in the middle of monumental change, and the foundation of this transformation is a smarter, more modern grid. The smart grid is empowering you with new data-driven programs that are a better fit for your habits and home and is enabling the rapid deployment of clean energy technologies that can reduce carbon emissions. Smart grid technologies are also significantly reducing the number and length of outages. These are just a few benefits of grid modernization, but as you can see, the smart grid is leading us to a smarter, cleaner future for all.

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