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Smart meter electricity usage data and energy services

Senior citizen

Utility companies face significant challenges in the coming years, not least of which is the the need to increase revenues while helping customers reduce their consumption.

One trump card they will have is the data from their smart meter rollouts. This will enable them to offer energy services around the data which would not previously have been possible.

Simple examples of this are the ability to alert people if their consumption is about to tip them into a higher tariff band or, for people with holiday homes, a notification if the lights turn on when their property is supposed to be unoccupied.

These would be quite basic offerings – but with a little bit of thought one can imagine other higher value options.

Consider that according to the US Census Bureau:

The world?s 65-and-older population is projected to triple by midcentury, from 516 million in 2009 to 1.53 billion in 2050.

Further, there are currently 30 million solo-single households in the United States (more than the number of households containing married couples with children) and about one-third of these solo singles are men and women 65 years of age and older. The percentage is even higher in Europe.

Now, if I have an elderly relative living alone, wouldn’t it be a very useful service if I could receive a timely message from their utility company if there are deviations from the normal patterns of energy usage (if the lights aren’t turned off at 11pm or the coffee machine/kettle isn’t powered up at 8am)?

This kind of service should be quite straightforward for electricity utilities to provide once they start receiving the detailed energy usage data which smart meters will deliver. This will enable utilities to transition to becoming suppliers of energy services and open up entirely new revenue streams for them.

Photo credit gagilas

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GreenMonk interviews AMEE and thinks about collaboration!

Gavin Starks, founder and CEO of AMEE, is one of the speaker’s presenting at this year’s [email protected] Green IT conference on November 26th. GreenMonk are a sponsor of the conference, hence our interviewing the speakers in the run-up to the conference.

We have written about AMEE several times before on GreenMonk because we are strong believers in their philosophies.

From the AMEE website:

AMEE is a neutral aggregation platform to measure and track all the energy data on Earth. This includes aggregating every emission factor and methodology related to CO2 and Energy Assessments (individuals, businesses, buildings, products, supply chains, countries, etc.), and all the consumption data (fuel, water, waste, quantitative and qualitative factors)

Because AMEE provides standardised access to emissions factors and methodologies you have to think they are a natural partner for many companies/organisations and indeed they currently count the UK govt, the Irish govt, Google, Radiohead and Morgan Stanley among their users!

Thinking about my recent trip to San Antonio for the SAP for Utilities conference, AMEE would seem an obvious choice to help SAP with their Energy Capital Management program.

AMEE keeps global factors and methodologies updated and maintained as a managed service, saving its clients time and resources, so there is logic for SAP to use AMEE for this service, for example.

Since AMEE also enables its clients to add their own methods, AMEE’s API approach is a valuable consolidation platform.

Collaboration could help stimulate new markets that cross-over between smart-grids, business footprinting, consumer initiatives, and policy trends. AMEE could support and compliment the aims of the Lighthouse Council, by extending the reach and demonstrating best practice.

This would enable (controlled) data mining and benchmarking in a collaborative environment, whilst maintaining privacy.

A collaboration between SAP and AMEE could demonstrate thought-leadership and generate new data marketplaces. It would also present a tangible way to accelerate reductions and efficiencies through data portability and by increasing transparency in the system.

The output could inform corporate strategy and government policy. This may be particularly timely and relevant to the new US administration.

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Trilliant’s Bill Vogel on Smart Grids, Demand Response and Investment

Electrical grid
Photo Credit ogimogi

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Episode 3 of the GreenMonk Podcasts – 42 mins 47 secs

My guest on this podcast is President, Chief Executive Officer, and Founder of Trilliant Bill Vogel. Trilliant are a company that

provides intelligent network solutions and software to utilities for advanced metering, demand response, and smart grid management. With more than twenty years experience solving meter communications needs, Trilliant focuses on the adoption of open standards-based technologies for electric, gas, and water utilities.

And Trilliant recently announced that it had closed a $40m funding round so I was interested to know how Bill felt smart grids could help reduce carbon footprints. I invited him to come on the show to discuss this and also to answer questions I solicited from readers of this site.

Here are the questions I asked Bill and the approx. times I asked them:

For anyone who is not sure what a Smart Grid is, can you give us a quick Smart Grid 101? – 0:18

How does that differ from the current grid infrastructure that we have? – 01:12

How does that work? – 02:22

And why would that be of benefit to consumers? – 03:48

Questions from readers:

Asa Hopkins
In the Trilliant vision of the future, what level of access will an individual consumer have to their own energy data, and with what time resolution? Will they be able to export raw data? Manipulate it through Trilliant software? Compare with neighbors? In the future will there be an open ecosystem of tools to allow individuals to learn more about their energy use and make their own efficiency gains? – 06:05

Are there intelligent enough systems right now to allow your smart meter communicate with your appliances, change your thermostat settings up or down based on energy pricing, that kind of thing, is that a reality yet or is that still a bit of a pipe dream? – 09:22

More questions from readers:

Jerry Sweeney
Trilliant sees its customers as large utility companies. Does Bill see any path where electrical grids could become more democratised. Where dynamic pricing could facilitate the sale and purchase of electricity by small consumers and producers depending on the current real time price. This could lead to huge growth in the production of distributed renewable energy and to the growth in demand response to pricing signals that suggested scarcity or abundance. How can the grid become more like eBay given the stranglehold that TSOs and Utility companies have over it. – 10:21

Are any of the utilities thinking of Demand Response in respect to demand stimulation and not just the traditional peak shaving? – 16:34

Still more questions from readers(!):

Andy
-Is there any evidence that information on its own is enough to change consumption? – 18:43
– Is multi-utility metering a real prospect/ has this been done by you? – 20:29
– Is there added value in a ‘Utility Data Channel’ that could be used for Security Systems, Water/Gas/BioHeat/Oil/Sub metering/ equipment control? – 21:47
– Is there interest in Smart Grids from makers of Electric Heating, Micro CHP, and Energy Storage Technologies? – 23:18
– Has electric heating been integrated with the operation of smart grids before? – 24:46
– Can such systems be modular and expandible? – 25:13
– Can open standards have a role in maintaining the long term value of smart metering infrastructure? – 26:00
– How can smart metering support markets in carbon reduction? – 27:45
– What happens if we do not do a form of advanced smart metering in Ireland, what is a worst case? – 29:39
– If Ireland is pioneering high levels of grid wind penetration, which other countries may follow? – 31:26
– How may energy prices impact on your business, is your technology a hedge against rising prices? – 32:28

Mr Energy Rating
What is Trilliant’s definition of the minimum functionality required for a meter to become a smart meter? – 34:07

How fat do the data pipes need to be between smart meters to have a real smart-grid? – 36:47

How do you overcome consumer rejection of Demand Response and avoid the situation in California where a major DR program had to be shelved because of a consumer backlash? – 38:35

You are heavily involved in the HydroOne project in Ontario – what have you learned from such a big project? – 39:50

Final question – you recently announced that you closed a $40m round of funding – what are you going to do with $40m? – 41:28

Download the entire interview here
(39.2mb mp3)