Under this rubric, using the smart meter, the utility, with the consumer’s permission, will be able to curtail non essential electrical loads as needed, benefitting the customer with less electric consumption and a smaller electric bill while helping the utility by reducing the need to construct expensive new peak generating capacity or to purchase power off the grid at costly peak rates. Despite considerable corporate marketing efforts and some positive publicity, smart meters have nevertheless experienced consumer resistance, due in part to skepticism of utility motives, ratepayer equity issues, privacy concerns and also what may be a libertarian streak among homeowners who don’t like the idea of a utility telling them when they can do their laundry. Furthermore, the build out of smart meter enabled service areas will at best, take as much as a decade, and even then likely leave out sizeable sectors of residential consumers.
Given this situation, should consumers and other stakeholders with an interest in DR simply bide their time until the smart meter and its associated home management system arrive? Not necessarily. There are other promising routes to residential energy efficiency and demand management. Electric utilities might wish otherwise, but today with multiple communication and control techniques now available, residential electric energy management systems aren’t restricted to pathways running exclusively through the electric meter, such as the smart meter systems described.
We believe DR makes sense, but it also has to put consumers, not the utility, foremost. As an alternative to utility directed demand response, we envision a consumer driven home energy management system. Based on increasingly popular and proven wireless communication protocols, cheap sensors and microcontrollers, such a system could connect and control key residential loads without resort to communications via the electric meter and the utility. Every residential electric consumer in the country can benefit. E2C2 LLC is developing such a solution, known as EnViz. The diagram explains it.