Smart on a Municipal Level

A city uses a lot of energy for its businesses and offices and for all of the residents that live there. With a smart grid in place the cost of that energy usage would be far less expensive both economically and environmentally. Smart grids use meters that make it possible to bill each individual customer for the exact amount of power that is used. This would lead to smarter energy consumption. Inefficient energy wasting appliances and office machines would be eliminated or at the very least used less frequently if they could be pinpointed as the source of high utility bills.

A smart grid also takes advantage of renewable resources to offset the need for other less environmentally sound forms of energy. When consumer demand is high (usually in predictable peaks for certain items or areas) more energy is created with any additional energy being stored for later usage. During off peak hours, energy is created and stored for use during the next peak cycle. Having energy supplies that match energy demand is a far more logical concept than not having enough or having too much and charging for the utility either way. If you have ever been billed for a full month of electricity despite sitting in the darkness for a week or more during that time period, you will begin to understand the benefits of a true smart grid. In a smart grid system, you would only be billed for the actual energy that you have used rather than for a set or predetermined amount plus any extra amounts that you use.

In many cities across the country, the current system is just that; you pay a predetermined, flat rate amount, plus a bill for any additional energy used past the allotted amount. A house that is empty but still has utilities is being billed that same flat rate. If you go on vacation for the majority of the month but do not have your service shut off, you will still return home to find the same bill that you would have had if you were home. Some utilities charge for turning service on and off, even when it is done at the request of a customer in good standing – others do not. The cost for this service may not be worth it in the long run, but what about the electricity that is being wasted? Some appliances draw energy whether they are being used or not; the only way to stop it is to unplug them from the source. While some people are vigilant about doing this, others are not.
A smart grid city would save valuable money and resources. With many cities facing economic meltdowns, investigating any way to save money while helping the environment is worth the effort.