Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ontario is More Than Smart Meters ...

Ontario is more than smart meters: at the smart grid core, we thrive
Tyler Hamilton's entry, of a company building products to meet needs,  is good.

Combined with some of the recent activity at both his own blog,, and at the site that appears to me as both an excellent source of information, and a sales tool for the smart grid industry, it also illustrates why I feel Ontario's initial presentation of a smart grid is a failure.

Smart Grid news had written the top "10 Things to Love About the Smart Grid", and decided to throw open a forum on the top things from a consumer perspective.  The site spurring on the industry did not get a single benefit.  I'd suggests Mr. Hamilton's success story is on a company interested in efficiency and reliability - which many involved with information technology and automation of any system are.

Earlier this week Mr. Hamilton had a disappointing entry on widening the gap in pricing for Ontario's TOU plan.  The Oklahoma study he notes provided smart thermostats and other tools to view, in real time, rates and usage.  These are not superfluous to the outcomes of the study.  They may be far more important than the pricing signals.  And if these aids are provided, why use TOU in off-peak seasons - or warm winter days and cool summer days?  I understand in France they have some thermostats that can be set by price of electricity (under a real-time pricing scheme one could choose to need a sweater if the price went about $x/MWh).  Regardless, the study has too many variables to indicate anything about the responsiveness of the consumer to price (the elasticity of demand).

The biggest failure of Ontario's smart-grid is the tools to view usage, personal and system, in real-time.  This leaves residential smart meters symbols of the hope people will shift heating away from cold times, cooling away from hot times, and eating away from meal times.  The failure is increasingly visible.  I believe it is primarily the failure to even consider the empowerment of the customer.  The industry applauds the concern Ontario has with security (ie. the money we spend on studying security), but the opposite concern, of being uncommunicative with the end client, is greater.

Here's the industry view on the workday of an customer service rep in the smart grid world.
Here's the morning of this customer, in a smart grid world.

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