So what’s so smart about it?

OK, I admit that I’m a bit of an early adopter. I’ve always liked gadgets. So I’m inclined toward accepting the new meters.

But I think CVPS, GMP and the rest have really short sold themselves by not stressing more the fact that smart grid technology is what’s going to let microgeneration work. A lot has been made in the media about how poor renewables are at replacing baseload power. A large part of the problem is that there’s no good way to tell a coal plant in Ohio that we’re doing fine for power right now in Vermont. But let’s say that GMP goes ahead and plants 15 Mw of solar in Rutland, and a few other entities chip in with wind and solar. With smart meters, when the wind picks up and the clouds blow away, the grid is told in a matter of a few minutes that we’re generating plenty of power. Link that into a sophisticated weather program that tells the system to expect sustained winds in Lowell and sunshine over the Solar City and enough other generation stations, and the next thing you know, you have something approaching smooth power. It’s not smooth enough for IBM (you sort of need hyperclean baseload power to build chips with a thousand or so circuits on a space the width of a hair), but it will run X air conditioners. That lets other sources ramp down, divert energy to batteries (soon) or shift their output elsewhere. Build enough little, clean generators and you can close down some big, dirty ones.

That’s the approximate theory, and I happen to think it’s a pretty worthwhile goal.


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