From a technological standpoint, smart grid technology has arrived and is ready to be deployed all over the world. One of its biggest hurdles comes from the financial end of things: upgrading electricity grids is an expensive process and the installation of individual smart meters in millions of homes and businesses across a city or state necessitates huge upfront capital costs.
But General Electric may have come up with a solution to these financial hurdles; they will shoulder the high upfront costs associated with smart grid installation and management and then charge utilities a monthly fee for the provision of â€˜smart grid services.â€™
This therefore eradicates the necessity for a huge upfront capital investment from utilities, thus allowing people to take advantage of smart grid technology much sooner.
And from GEâ€™s perspective, it makes sense to provide smart grid services, since they have access to a vast cloud computing platform in Atlanta. They already have access to the requisite IT infrastructure for smart grid monitoring and management â€“ which is something that utilities would need to build from the ground up.
Currently, GE has secured a contract with Norcross, Ga., with other cities expressing interest across the state. Starting in May next year, consumers would be charged an extra $1 per month to cover the new service.
But city officials felt the smart grid payoffs would more than compensate for the small increase in monthly bills: citizens would have access to more efficient, reliable, and sustainable electricity, and would be able to monitor their energy consumption online. With the addition of new smart grid compatible devices on the market these days (such as the Nest Learning Thermostat), consumers could take advantage of more technologically advanced conservation gadgets.
Furthermore, the new system would track consumers on digital devices remotely, thus cutting down on the number of employees needed on the ground to read the meters.
What do you think of smart grid technology? How do feel about GE providing â€˜smart grid servicesâ€™?
Image courtesy of GE Ecomagination: GE Smart Meter