Issue Date: January 14, 2008
Savings Found In Power-Grid Control
Consumers could save 5 to 15% on their electric bill by adopting a new system of real-time controls over their electricity use during periods of peak power demand, according to a study by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Under a trial program, PNNL installed advanced automatic systems to cut electricity to hot water heaters, dryers, and home heating and cooling systems in five-minute intervals when peak electricity demand was highest, DOE officials said. The systems allowed homeowners to control the overall amount and duration of electricity reductions, but the timing of when the reduction occurred was left to the utility to determine in order to balance the power grid. The initial systems cost about $1,000 per house and require installation of circuitry in the controls of appliances. Homeowners set the appliance controls through a wireless router in their home computers, and the utility turns the appliances on and off by varying the alternating current to the household. DOE officials say the system could save $70 billion in new generation and distribution facilities over 20 years by giving utilities greater control over the grid and could also foster expansion of solar and wind generation systems, which vary in electricity output.
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