Measuring Up: Smart Meter Lessons from the UK

Measuring Up: Smart Meter Lessons from the UK

Smart meters—small, electronic devices that track and record energy consumption, and communicate information back to the electrical utility—can reduce energy use by empowering consumers with the ability to monitor energy use and make better choices. Smart meters are an upgrade to outdated analog meters because they automatically record information in real time, rather than requiring someone to manually record and transmit the collected data.

There are significant advantages to smart meters, both for utility companies and for energy consumers. Smart meters record electricity usage and provide real-time data that can help balance electricity usage while reducing the number of blackouts. They eliminate the need for cumbersome monthly meter readings. Smart meters also can enable dynamic pricing, meaning they can lower or raise the price of electricity in response to demand. In addition to enabling optimization of electricity distribution and reducing power outages and grid failures, smart meters can give consumers better and more detailed reports on energy use, and empower consumers to change their energy habits to reduce energy costs.

Microgrids: Distributed Energy and Resilience

Microgrids: Distributed Energy and Resilience

Over a month after Category 5 Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico causing catastrophic damage, much of the island is still without power. The storm knocked out power to almost all of the commonwealth. Homes, schools, hospitals, and other critical services and infrastructure were left without power. Even now, only a fifth of residents have power.

Microgrids may provide the means to reduce vulnerability—and improve resilience—in the wake of a changing climate and increasing risk of natural disasters.

Resilience in small packages

Resilience in small packages

Cyberattacks, natural disasters, including flooding, snow and ice storms, droughts, in addition to aging infrastructure, and other factors all lead to vulnerability in a system faced with increasing demand. When one part of this complex system fails, as can happen when a storm knocks down a wire or pole, other parts are affected. Enter the microgrid—a local energy distribution system that offers backup generation if the central grid fails.