Here’s another me too organizations pushing their agenda unto the industry and trying to compete with the many others who stand to gain or loose in the battle for “oneness.” While I do applaud the efforts of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), I am somewhat aware of the bias interest they have in the final outcome of the smart grid initiatives. Let’s face it, they are my competitors so I do tend to (tongue in cheek) become alarmed at their agenda. They do have some good points (why didn’t I think of it first?) as seen in their push for integration of home and grid. It is interesting that they posit the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 as making smart appliances integration mandatory and thus inferring that smart appliances are essential to fulfill the law.
“In establishing policy on the development of a Smart Grid, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires integration of Smart Appliances and consumer devices that can interact with the Smart Grid. This law also requires that consumers be provided with
timely information and options for controlling energy use.
How will the Smart Grid involve and affect the consumer?
o The deployment and integration of “smart” consumer appliances and devices are mentioned in two of the ten primary Smart Grid objectives as defined by Congress.
o The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) identifies important Smart Grid features that will “…facilitate consumer transactions and allow consumers to better manage their electric energy costs.
o A key feature of the Smart Grid is Demand Response, where the consumer, utility or designated third party can reduce the consumer’s energy consumption during critical usage periods. Since the residential sector accounts for 37% of electrical retail sales, it is logical that the utility industry would engage residential consumers in efforts to manage consumption.”
They redefine the smart grid as being designed for the consumer’s benefit and use. I’m all for that too. However, they also express a sense of alarm in that “without proper consideration of consumer needs in the development of these initiatives, the vision of the Smart Grid is at risk.” Talk about their focus and perspectives…hmmm.
Overall, the downloadable white paper has some serious and important points that smart grid developers and device manufacturers do need to be dwell on. It brought to mind several questions that are yet to be answered and, quite frankly, may not answerable until we gain more understanding of consumer interaction with deployed technologies.
1. How does the utility shift loads of millions of appliances so as to not disrupt peak demands or even create a new peak demand period?
2. What infrastructure, both external and internal to a home would smart appliances really need (no sugar coating hype like I’ve been reading lately coming from news briefs and press releases).
3. How does the industry account for the millions of appliances currently deployed and working without any need for upgrading. What option will consumers have other then purchasing a new appliance? Note that the difference in smart appliances and normal appliances is the communications link and electronics needed to respond to remote command and control (other then the normal “panel” controls on the appliances.
4. The call for one standard protocol for communications into the home from the smart meter seems to be counterintuitive of the market and free enterprise in our society. Who makes that call as to the one standard? Who gains and who looses in the shuffle to influence which is selected?
The final outcome of smart appliances may be more of a matter of consumer preferences verses manufacturer’s push. The number of appliances in use and the brands, types, makes etc is the millions. This implies a transitional period where smart appliances are gradually phased in to replace older and less efficient devices. No one has yet to measure the effect of smart meters since the goal of deployment is utility biased and doesn’t necessarily take into account consumers (other then the normal marketing hype and consumer friendly language used).