Introduction: In Full ‘Measure’
Have you ever suffered an outage or flickering power supply? Have you ever paid a power bill which seemed to be a nightmare? Or have you ever tried to call the Utility with your inflated power bill and felt like being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea? Before you decide to strike a deal with the local inverter supplier, do consider this. The answer to avoid all these things could rest with smart meters and how they are managed within the power grids.
Government mandates and internal policies are driving Utilities towards digitization and at the retail end of the business, this process has begun with the installation of smart meters. Today, we live in a more personalized environment and it is important to address the customers’ concerns. Some of the benefits of smart meters are:
- Accurate real-time meter readings
- Better management of energy usage
- Energy savings, resulting in lower bills
A community pool can help customers and market participants reap these benefits sans the complaints, billing shocks and unforeseen network/transmission charges.
Jump the Snarl, Create a Pool
Interestingly, the way power reaches you is in a way similar to a city’s road network and it too can suffer traffic jams. Here’s the analogy. When you turn on the switch, the bulb lights up instantly. But actually it is not all that instant and magical. From the actual point of generation till the premise where it is tapped, power travels through a long and complex transmission and distribution network.
When you look at this traffic situation closely, it is evident that this power traffic is caused by different needs of power in various residential or industrial areas. You would also discover that a lack of accurate load scheduling and specific means of energy storage aggravate the situation. This lack of scheduling information and storage measures result in a high cost of power borne by the customer. And this is a situation every service provider is most affected by since it affects customers.
But do the insights provided by smart meters help resolve the issue?
Just the knowledge of usage patterns and consumption analysis, demand response programs and customer surveys do not contribute towards a smoother distribution or an easier load scheduling. While energy management tools provide insights into what the various consumption patterns can be like and what an assumed load structure can look like, the primary driver here is still the supplier or, at most, a marketer and not the end customer.
Since the customer is at the heart of every Utility service, it makes more sense if customers drive energy management. It might start with communities or pool owners deciding the frequency and intensity of their consumption patterns, and also sharing partial or full information of their consumption. This will help them get an accurate picture of load inflow and outflow. These communities may be started with the supporting backbone of distribution utilities and/or Demand Response Service Providers.
Smart pooling of grid traffic would mean sharing of the cumulative power demand. This could be achieved readily with the help of a municipal aggregation, where in a municipality can negotiate for the purchase of the combined electric supply of its residents and eligible small businesses.
This would bring:
- Single and focused point of participation to deal with the traffic
- Subsidized rates for participants
- Single energy goal for the community even after each participant had retained the flexibility of individual usage
Going beyond the concept of aggregation, the Smart Pool would also have the capacity to provide proactive load traffic analysis, driving Community Energy Management in real terms.