So far, winter 2011/12 has been an unseasonably warm one here in the Hudson Valley. Everyone seems to be familiar with global warming, but many remain unaware of the current energy crisis. Anticipated record high temperatures in the summer months with increased demand for air conditioning, is only going to add to the energy problem.
The US produces 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases and yet we only account for 4% of the world’s total population. Up to 60% of the US’s electricity is generated from coal, which accounts for 40% of our carbon emissions. These statistics become staggering, added to the exponential rise in consumer and industrial demand for electricity that, since 1982 has exceeded utilities’ ability to meet that need by 25%, annually.
Something has to give—but what? We have an outdated electrical system, an accelerated increase in energy demand, and a pending decrease in our primary energy source—coal. That’s right. The Federal government has new laws pending to enforce stricter environmental regulations on coal-generated power plants by 2014. According to the Chicago Tribune, the resulting expensive upgrades will force many plants to close and energy costs to skyrocket by as much as 40-60%. Combating climate change, environmental degradation and a struggling economy, utility companies will have to leverage the delivery systems already in place to manage energy demands.
One of the key solutions to the growing problem is quickly gaining national support because of its multitude of benefits. We are talking about Smarter Grids, which offer improvements and cost savings from generation of electricity to consumption. Smart Grids are digitized systems that can increase utilization of energy by sending 50-300% more electricity through existing corridors. Smart Grids enable utilities to reduce high-demand periods, balance electric loads to help avoid local and regional blackouts and manage voltage changes. Smart technology also helps offset the need for new power plants and infrastructure.
A very important component of the Smart Grid is Smart Metering—which enables users to monitor and manage their electricity use in real time. Smart Meters give consumers greater control over their own electricity usage. By creating a two-way communication between the consumer and a utility, individuals will gain a window into their energy usage, giving them an awareness tool previously lacking. Washington D.C.’s Smart Meter pilot project, called PowerCents, revealed that through improved consumer awareness alone, energy savings of 5% can be achieved.
A number of countries, including most of the European Union nations, and Asia are way ahead of the US in the adoption of Smart Technology. That’s not to say America is standing idly by. As of September of 2011, 22% of all US households had Smart Meters installed. The Institute for Electric Efficiency (IEE) projects that by 2015—54% of all homes in the US will have them.
A number of states have adopted Smart Meters but New York is the first state in the Northeast to see this technology. In fact, right here in the Hudson Valley, Red Hook and Tivoli have been chosen to pilot Smart Meters because of their towns’ strong environmental record. This lower-carbon technology works. So far, every utility has implemented smart meters after their pilot projects’ completion. This is the future of energy technology—A vital tool for positive change. A real solution for real people.
If you live in Red Hook or Tivoli, you may qualify to be part of the Smart Meter pilot project. For more information or if you are interested in getting involved, please contact Green T Energy, Inc., a local electrical contracting company with an emphasis on energy conservation and sustainability at (845)247-3473.
Green T Energy, Inc. is a local electrical contracting company with an emphasis on sustainability and energy conservation. They are currently running a free Smart Meter Pilot Project exclusively for the Red Hook/Tivoli area that will help homeowners control their electric usage to save money, and the environment. They have also been involved in Central Hudson’s Commercial Lighting Retrofitting program for over a year. They handle all aspects of electrical work and lighting design from residential to industrial, and also offer home and business electrical energy audits. Their ultimate goal: Help secure the future for generations to come by decreasing our environmental impact on the planet.