Pennsylvania Electric Company (PECO) has finally begun its full scale roll-out of smarter meters. Its slowness to implement the recently-mandated 15-minute increment bi-directional reporting meters may have to do with the fact it invested millions of dollars of rate-payer funds in now-outmoded ‘smart’ remote-readable meters only a few years ago, in what was probably just a matter of unfortunate timing for the ratepayers.
The new meters will help PECO and its customers better understand their electrical use, and adapt behavior to the actual cost of generating electricity, as alternative generation providers offer time-of-use tariffs with different prices different times of day, or even spot-market tariffs that could change price every 15 minutes.
PECO’s new smart meters fail to achieve compliance with PA’s Act 129 for grid-tied solar PV
An interesting article from the online magazine Electric Lighting & Power on PV’s developing role on utility electrical grids has swerved my thinking on distributed, small solar PV (capacity denominated in kW, or thousands of Watts) vs. utility-scale large solar PV (capacity denominated in MW, or millions of Watts). Having been a part of installations ranging from tiny 2.5 kW to pretty-big 150 kW in DC generating capacity, I began thinking the economies of scale on the larger installations undercut the rationale for offering incentives to individual homeowners for the 2-20 kW installations typical on these smaller properties. Electric Power & Light points up the fact, though, that as PV becomes a significant portion of total energy inputs to the grid (at least 0.5% by 2021 rather than the even more-paultry .0203% today, under the AEPS renewable energy portfolio standards enacted by PA legislature), it will need to play better with the grid. Especially large solar farms over 1MW will need to act more like conventional power plants, delivering energy when expected, or, at the minimum, not suddenly dropping off even when a big cloud rolls by. Distributed solar solves these problems inherently by averaging a cloud-spotted day over a land-spotted deployment of solar collectors.
Small, Distributed PV + Smart Grid = Dynamic Duo for grid support
Time of use rates (TOU) should be good thing, right?
According to today’s Inquirer (“Utility’s rates up, or down” 2011-05-21), PPL customers who elected to be among the first in the state to try time-of-use metering for consumer tariffs (account billing schemes; PECO does not yet offer time-of-use billing for consumer accounts) got stiffed with extra-high rates for summer peak hours and above-the-default-rate rates for so-called ‘off-peak’ hours in the tariff.
TOU metering and tiered charges promise enhanced grid stability and prices for all customers, since the scheme provides participants incentives to respond to the actual costs of energy at any moment in time. As the grid approaches maximum output capacity in high-demand events, especially peak mid-day hours in summertime when the most buildings operate their A/C, momentary pricing for energy skyrockets, with TOU customers the only ones who have any direct economic incentive to respond by throttling their A/C and other loads down to save money. Read more >>
Customer Resource Blog Categories
Off-site Links ->
- Annapolis Home Inspection, LLC Aluminum branch circuits, homes 1965-1972
- ComplianceAndSafety.com OSHA Electrical Safety Training
- Electric Monk TV (YouTube) Video channel for PhillyLicensedElectrician.com Robert Monk
- EnergyConservation HowTo A tinkerer genius discusses energy conservation and his ladder system for accessing the attic (where a lot of energy-saving work happens).
- PennFuture Energy Center Energy and energy efficiency news for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- Phila area rife with building efficiency upgrade opportunities Philadelphia Inquirer article discusses recent study showing Philadelphia’s inner-ring suburbs stand to save from energy conservation retrofits.
- Philadelphia Row-house Manual A design, maintenance, and modifications manual for our most widely-used form of housing.
- Robert Monk Robert Monk’s personal blog
- SolarCities (DOE) Solar PV Levelized Cost Interactive Comparator Simple graph compares ‘levelized cost’ of energy from solar PV to conventional grid rates, with a time-slider interactive feature.
- The Circuit Detective – Solve Home Electrical Problems Yourself! Electrical troubleshooting procedures pitched to homeowners.
- The Energy Co-op Blog from a leading alternative energy provider in PECO territory, includes fun conservation tips.
- Weatherization: the anti-Solyndra Salon.com article praising the continued success of the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), low-income energy-savings and job-creation.
- West Philly Tool Library Official site of WPTL, Philly’s own community tool lending library: like a book library, but tools!
- WestPhillyLocal .com Site name say sit all.
- Bartram's Gardens Founded in Philadelphia’s colonial era, today the gardens continue pioneering in horticulture and agriculture with a variety of herbs, trees and other vegetation in an arboretum/gardens on the Schulkill River banks, and a new farm abutting sadly neglected
- HiddenCity Philadelphia Surprising places it takes an adventurer to discover; events, too.
- Philly Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Schedule City of Philadelphia dates and places for disposing of spent batteries, CFL lamps, unused paint and cleaning products, etc. LovePhilly: don’t pour these in the drain or send them out with the trash.
- Reading Terminal Market Purveyors of fine foods and foodie stuff, all under one roof downtown under the PA Convention Center
- Secret Garden on the Rails Jacques-Jean Tiziou shows some dramatic natural and urban and naturalized-urban scenes along abandoned rails of Philadelphia
- Sketch Burger, Fishtown A vegan-friendly burger joint with a #1 in Philly contender beef burger, best fries that somehow stay fresh for 1/2 hour while you tackle burger, and a vegan cafe vibe of friendly folks.
- WXPN: Philly sings in key of love Love songs by Philly artists