July 19, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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Sometime in April, Pacific Gas & Electric (PCG) put a brand new “smart meter” on the home I rent in Marin County, Calif. We were never notified or asked if we wanted one. The installer just came one day while we were out, and it was a done deal. As a confirmed environmentalist, I thought this should have been a good thing. Smart meters will, in theory, play a key role in managing energy consumption by households like mine.

The devices are wireless, so they eliminate the need for meter readers and save companies like PG&E money while reducing the carbon footprint and pollution resulting from running fleets of trucks to tally power usage at millions of homes. Smart meters also can show a homeowner patterns about energy usage and even notify them about energy usage anomalies or spikes in power demand.

Smart meters will ultimately allow for more dynamic pricing in electrical power and for communities like Southern Marin, where I live, to make a choice to reduce power on days when the grid is near capacity due to a heat wave, while it remains reliably cool in my neck of the woods.

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