Smart grid benefits for consumers, service providers

Published: Fri 17 Jan 2014
A blog entry by Smart Grid Watch

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In response to our recent post about the smart grid implications of IDC's 2014 utility industry predictions (part 1 and part 2), we received this question: How do smart grids benefit customers?

There are a couple of ways to answer this: from the perspective of Siemens's customers (primarily utilities and other service providers), and from the perspective of utility customers (consumers).

Utility benefits: Utilities that deploy smart grids will be able to use big data and analytics to better understand their customers to improve overall customer satisfaction. This is important as more renewable and distributed generation resources get added to the grid, since intermittency and power quality issues can threaten grid stability. Monitoring and controlling all aspects of the power network more closely, in real time, will minimize service disruptions (blackouts and brownouts). This helps utilities avoid penalty fees and other regulatory repercussions -- while, of course, keeping the lights on.

However, the world's energy markets vary from region to region. So each utility must base its smart grid strategy and objectives on the current policy framework in its market, as well as the local market's unique regulatory issues and priorities. Watch the archived IDC webinar presentation, minute 11:00, for an overview of regional energy market policy and priorities.

Consumer benefits. According to Chris King (Chief Regulatory Officer for eMeter, a Siemens Business), the top three smart grid benefits to consumers are:

  1. Empowering consumers to save money by using less electricity or reducing peak consumption. Studies indicate conservation of 5-10% and peak reduction of 10-20%.
  2. Improving system reliability through reduced outages and faster restoration (as mentioned above, this benefits both utilities and consumers). One utility reduced outages by 50% after deploying smart meters.
  3. Putting more renewable resources on the grid -- a goal that enjoys broad consumer support worldwide. Smart grids provide automated responses to fluctuating wind and solar levels. For instance, studies say 60% more solar can be accommodated by a smart grid.

Read more at Smart Grid Watch!