Interval data: the key to unlocking $130 billion per year in smart grid savings


Editor's note: Although Chris King is the Global Chief Regulatory Officer for Siemens Smart Grid, he is also an industry thought leader often sought out to help utilities, regulators and legislators understand grid issues. Like me, he believes we need to do a better job educating the rest of the world about the principles that underlie the smart grid. When he showed me his thoughts on the importance of interval data, I asked if I could share them with you. If you agree that it is a crisp explanation, I hope you will pass it along, not just to colleagues, but also to customers and regulators who need a better understanding. -- Jesse Berst



By Chris King



Why the heck does the power industry need hourly or quarter-hourly interval usage data for every customer? To achieve maximum benefits from smart meter investments:


·         Information-driven energy savings. Interval data can yield useful information that helps customers grasp key concepts -- such as how behavior affects energy use, "vampire” loads, roughly how much power is consumed by each major appliance (or piece of commercial equipment), and how much you can save with more efficient devices. Research shows average energy savings of 5-10%.


·         Time-based pricing. Interval data supports important customer options such as time-of-use and critical peak prices, peak time rebates, and other demand response programs. In one survey, 73% of customers requested these options. Such programs reduce peak demand by 20%, which means utilities need fewer power plants -- another huge savings.


·         Wholesale market savings. In most wholesale electric markets, prices change every hour or more frequently. Without interval data, retailers pay for energy based on hourly estimates of customer usage. Therefore, even if a customer lowers peak use, the retailer still must pay the higher energy cost; the estimate doesn’t change. With real interval data, retailers see real savings which can be passed on to consumers.