Smart Power Grid Will Drop Knowledge On Indiana

Duke Energy plans on bringing the smartest thing to Indiana since Keith. It’s a “smart” power grid that lets customers keep daily tabs on energy usage and tips Duke off when power outages occur. The grid upgrade will cost the company — and in turn, possibly customers, although Duke is applying for federal stimulus funds that would fund the project — $445 million and more than five years to roll out. Hey, nobody said the future would be cheap or come quickly.

The Business Courier of Cincinnati breaks down the benefits:

ï The ability of consumers to track their energy usage daily and use “smart” appliances as they come on the market. Eventually, consumers would be able to monitor and manage their energy use online, and use other cost- and energy-saving programs.

ï A communications system that would allow Duke to detect trouble on power lines before outages develop and move to prevent them.

ï Smart meters that reduce the expense of on-site reading, and provide more information to the company. Duke hopes to install 800,000 meters throughout its 69-county service area.

ï Other technology to automate the power delivery system and increase its reliability.

That “other technology” thing is what has us intrigued. Like a little mystery prize in a cereal box.

Duke Energy to bring ësmart grid’ to Indiana [Business Courier of Cincinnati]
(Photo: rickrushart)


Edit Your Comment

  1. HIV 2 Elway says:

    KCPL already allows me to check my daily usage.

  2. vladthepaler says:

    People can already check their usage, just have a look at the meter attached to your house.

    • Anathema777 says:

      @vladthepaler: The Smart Grid is just the start of a new utilities infrastructure. It starts by allowing you to check your usage online. But it also sets the foundation for allowing you to remotely turn appliances one and off, or for the utilities company to reduce power to a certain area in order to stop a potential blackout and stabilize the grid.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @Anathema777: The ability to check usage multiple ways is of no benefit to people who don’t give a crap about how much they use anyway.

        • PSUSkier says:

          @dragonfire81: I think you’re missing the bigger part of this. The “check your daily usage” is but a small benefit of this system. The real benefit is that power companies can instantly poll the amount of usage on the grid and compensate accordingly. This makes power plants more efficient/can help lower costs/less pollution etc.

        • Coksibum says:

          @dragonfire81: The reason people dont care, is because they dont have visibility into how they are being charged, or how much a Watt is, or what it does.

          Education of ignorant people who dont care about energy use, is what is necessary to get the funding required to fix the outdated and failing energy infrastructure.

          High energy costs are caused by high production costs, which are driven up by higher demand. When a production source is producing 100% then another needs to be built… costing more money.

      • Coles_Law says:

        @Anathema777: It can also allow for on-demand pricing-raising rates at peak times and lowering them at night, etc.

    • Etoiles says:

      @vladthepaler: You can’t always see your own meter without a lot of effort — particularly if you live in an apartment building. I’m sure I could request to see ours and they’d let me without arguing, but first I’d have to be home when the office is open…

    • nakedscience says:

      @vladthepaler: I do NOT have easy access to my meter because I live in an apartment building. It’s not always convenient.

      @dragonfire81: What does that matter? Plenty of people give a crap about how much they use, and this will benefit those people.

  3. Darrone says:

    To anyone who says “I can already xyz”

    Aren’t you forgetting this is Indiana? I’m surprised the post wasn’t Electricity arrives in Indiana, locals frightened.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @Darrone: A lot like what happened with Daylight Saving Time arrived in the state.

    • redskull says:

      @Darrone: Ah, wow, I see what you did there! You used a fake headline to imply that Indiana is a backward state. Wow, that… that’s funny. You’re funny. No, wait… you’re droll! You are on it. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that the residents of a particular state aren’t “with it” before. You’re cutting edge! You are on the cutting edge man! You should do stand up!

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      @Darrone: Ah, yes, we are totally backwards in this state, what with places like Purdue, where astronauts have graduated from, and IU. Tons of museums, a Super Bowl winning football team…

      • Thatmushroom says:

        @Red-headed bookworm:
        “What’s astonishing isn’t what Indianapolis has become. We’ve finally grown accustomed to the resurgence. What’s astonishing is while other Midwestern cities continue to struggle, Indianapolis has become a worthwhile destination while still being surrounded by Indiana.”
        -Chicago Tribune, 8-5-07

        And yes, I’m a native-born Hoosier, a Purdue alum, and I’m currently enrolled as a grad student at Purdue.

  4. JGKojak says:

    Well- I hope the “other” technology is not installing wired thermostats in peoples homes so the energy company can control them- which is what CA want.

    I believe that’s where I draw the line.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @JGKojak: OMG

      They shouldn’t even care what people are using the electricity for as long as they’re paying for it (and, where applicable, not using too much of it).

      • ElGordo1 says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation:

        1. The California program has been changed (I believe) to an opt-in scheme, so if you don’t want to have your energy remotely controlled, you don’t have to. You just won’t get paid like your neighbors would.

        2. The program really would only shuffle load so that everyone’s AC or fridge isn’t on at exactly the same time. One side of the street goes on for ten minutes, then the other. Customers probably wouldn’t notice much of a difference.

        3. Not all electricity costs the same amount to produce. Peak hour loads require less efficient (ie, more expensive) plants to come online to help meet demand. It is much cheaper for the utility to reduce peak hour demand than it is to build new plants, and therefore your rates stay lower due to these types of programs. Not to mention the reduction in pollution from reduced usage.

      • ARP says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: I remember during the energy crunch in the late 90’s early 00’s in Orange County, CA (ultra Republican BTW) a news crew was filming a subdivision during a rolling blackout becaues of the lack of power. One side of the street had power and all the residents had all their holiday decorations on. The other side had no power. The guy on the lit side bascially said what you did, “I’m paying for it, so I can do what I want.”

    • Coksibum says:

      @JGKojak: Wired thermostats and hot water heater shut-off, A/C disconnects are just the start. Think about a smart plug on every appliance, micowave –> clothes washer which can be shut off at the flick of a button.

      Mark my words, “Pre-Pay” is on its way… Texas has mandated that all new residential elec. meters which are installed MUST contain service disconnect. The utility no longer has to come to your house to disconnect the power. If you don’t pay your bill (up-front) your meter will simply disconnect.

  5. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    There was an article bout this in the Charlotte Observer last week… the way it was written led me to believe that Charlotte (Duke’s headquarters) was supposed ot be the pilot site for the program.
    and i vaguely recall a price number in the billions for a nationwide rollout… i’ll have to find the article again

  6. bbvk05 says:

    AWESOME! Let’s upgrade to the system designed primarily to enable energy rationing.

  7. neilb says:

    I do some work for energy companies and I am all for this. We have an obselete and incapable distribution and metering system now. This will allow the whole grid to do things that it is not capable of doing now. Say hello to time-of-use metering.

    Peak energy (when the grid is overloaded) is incredibly expensive and pollutes like crazy. Consumers should be paying a lot for it (as an incentive to not use it)–these changes will allow for rate flexibility and, as a hopeful offshoot, relate to lower non-peak rates and less pollution/fewer “peak” natural gas/coal plants.

    REMINDER: Sign up for peak AC compressor cutoff programs if your utility offers them. Everyone wins because you get paid for participating. The downside is VERY minimal because the programs typically do not ever get used or will only get used once or twice a season (with negligible consumer impact). When they are used, though, they have a HUGE impact on the grid.

    • HRHKingFridayXX says:

      @neilb: Does that mean I pay more to watch tv and cool my house in the evening rather than during the day? If so, that sucks because its the only time I really use a lot of electricity.

    • U-235 says:

      @neilb: Yeah, and to a company of Duke’s size $445 million dollars is chump change. TVA drops around $1 billion a year just on coal plant emmissions upgrades.

      @HRHKingFridayXX: More like around 7:00 am and 5:00 pm, when eveyone is taking showers and cooking breakfast, and then when everyone gets home and starts making dinner. After 6:30 pm or so the peak drops off, so it really depends when you leave for work and when you get home.

      • HRHKingFridayXX says:

        @U-235: Ah. Still, that kind of irritates me. I’m not going to use less, I’ll just be charged more. Still gotta make the bacon and take a shower every morning, and unless my work schedule changes (it won’t) then there’s nothing I can do about it.

    • dfwguy says:


      Time of use metering might make sense in an environment where there is true competition and you could choose which company you used. However, even with deregulation the generation facilities are typically owned by a former monopoly. This means most if not all of the so called competitors are nothing more than marketing shells. The result is higher prices. Check out Texas the business friendly state where our rates are 20+% more than the surrounding states. Last summer some who were on variable rate plans and those who were moved to a default provider when their billing company went bust, saw $0.26 per KWH. In other words for those dropped and reassigned, their bills tripled or more.

      I have lived in areas where AC compressor disablers were allowed and all I got was AC trouble and tripped breakers. I won’t make that mistake again.

      I for one am sick of being offered new, improved tech and deregulation to increase competition and lower price. The only thing I have seen is the money fly out of my accounts faster than ever.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @neilb: Agreed! More than anything, this helps people think twice before running the dryer in the middle of peak usage, etc. It has a very negligible downside for us, and saves ~$15/month

    • FLConsumer says:

      @neilb: Oh hell no. My air con stays under MY control. Cutting out my compressor will have a HUGE impact on my AC system as it was designed and sized assuming power was available 24/7. If the power co decides to cut power mid-day it’s not going to get a chance to catch up and will have to step up to it’s highest stage, which is more inefficient than its low stages. All of the “green” energy standards are pushing this type of air conditioning design, further making the peak AC shut-offs a bad idea.

      Time of Use metering can work, but only if the energy company is reasonable with it. Tampa Electric’s off-peak time is considered 12am to 6am. Um.. This is Florida. There’s no way in hell you’re going to be able to NOT use air con during the peak time if you want to keep mold/mildew from taking over your house.

  8. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    We just got the RFID-readable meters where I am, and I am actually a fan. I am no longer startled by the meter man going right past my window at odd hours, and he no longer tramps through my garden to get to the meter (it’s oddly placed and I swear the last homeowners were trying to hide it with thornbushes).

    Now he just drives creepily slowly down the street. There’s a school on my block and it took me a couple times to realize it was the RFID reader van and not Chester the Molester staking out the school.

    Hopefully better use data will follow from the upgraded meters.

    • zlionsfan says:

      @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): And as soon as Duke has this stuff in place, they can share the meter technology with the water company so I can get an accurate water bill every month instead of having to battle them periodically to make sure I only pay what I owe.

      Oh wait, RFID technology doesn’t actually send the readings to the water company. They still have to send out someone, it just makes it easier for both of us. Never mind.

      but I am looking forward to this.

  9. ToddMU03 says:

    Hopefully Tom Crean can bring us another one. Been too long.

    Oh, this is about power?

  10. enginecraft says:

    I live in Indiana where Duke provides their services (bad at that). Duke has done nothing but raise prices. Hoosiers were sold out by our Governor whom Duke gave a little over 80k to help him run for reelection 2008. This program announced sounds like the Carolina program called “Save-a-Watt”.

  11. JeanStork says:

    CL-P in CT is piloting a program similar to it… It shows your active usage and tells you how much power your burning by the minute IN DOLLARS… well pennies since its per minute :-)

  12. HiPwr says:

    I hope Duke spends enough on security before they try all of this on-line stuff. Chinese hackers and pimple-faced teens will be probing for holes in this system about four milliseconds after it comes up.

  13. IndyJaws says:

    Oh man, Keith Smart! I was a junior at IU when he hit “The Shot.” Lots of parties, lots of beer, lots of…er…yeah, hurray smart power thingies!

  14. HogwartsAlum says:

    Being able to monitor trouble on the lines and catch power outages would be cool. During the ice storm in 07 they told us to call in, but the lines were so overwhelmed (because practically the whole city was out) that it took me three days to get through and I had to call at 11:30 at night.

  15. FLConsumer says:

    If someone wants a kilowatt-hour meter they can use in their house (even if they’re renting an apartment), I’ve been using The Energy Detective for a few years now. Clamp the transmitter inside the electrical panel, plug the remote display in any outlet in the house. Done.

    I keep the remote display sitting on the kitchen counter where it shows me my current usage, today’s usage, this month’s usage and estimated final bill in kilowatts AND dollars/cents. I’ve made it a habit of checking it before I retire for bed and before I leave the house. After awhile you learn what is normal and what isn’t. I know it’s paid for itself many times over already.

    It’s also invaluable when I’m running on generator power, as I’ve intentionally installed a smaller generator plant than what the house loads are. At a glance I know what the house is pulling. Smaller generator = quieter, less fuel used. I’m good for at least 2 weeks without power if I’m running the air con 24/7. Perfect in hurricane country.


    • FLConsumer says:

      @FLConsumer: Forgot to put this in the other post, but if someone doesn’t feel comfortable popping open the electrical box or wants something more portable, the Kill A Watt meters have served me well over the years. For $20-$35, they’ll pay for themselves in the first month if used properly. I still use these with The Energy Detective as the T.E.D. only measures in 10 watt increments while the Kill-a-Watt units measure in whole watts. Very useful at tracking down phantom loads by cell chargers, etc.

      Kill-a-Watt without $/cents calculations & without logging: ($22)

      Kill-a-Watt WITH $/cents + logging: ($36)

  16. geoffhazel says:

    Smart grid will be sold as providing lots of benefits to “cut rates” and whatnot but will also give more central control. People who want control will have one more way to exercise that power over individual liberties (e.g., to keep your house as warm or cool as you like).