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Smart Grid Essay

The current electricity infrastructure in the Unites States consists of one way “communication” between the electric company and the homes receiving the electricity with the communication coming from the electric company to the homes. The current electricity infrastructure in the United States is more than 100 years old and because of this fact, it is outdated resulting in a great lack of efficiency. There is no way for the electricity company to obtain information from the individual homes pertaining to actual usage. Smart grids allows for two way communications between the electricity company and the homes allowing both electric companies and homes to operate more efficiently.

This two way communication will allow home users to cut costs by efficiently utilizing energy. Smart grids will also allow the electricity companies to raise prices when the demand is high and lower prices when the demand is low. Mirroring the price advantage, smart grids will allow the user to dictate the usage of appliances that may have a significant impact on their utility bills. Knowledge of the user’s consumption will also help in making decisions that the electricity company can use to be more efficient. Smart grid technology is the evolution of the current electricity infrastructure that will continue to evolve if accepted.

Development of smart grids will need management inputs especially when deciding the benefits, or lack thereof. The financial issues that are already on the table and future issues will determine whether or not smart grids will ultimately become a detriment or a true asset. Management will also have to make decisions in the design or redesign process so that the final product is as efficient as possible. Organizations could be affected depending on the opinion of the end user. If the end user, for whatever reason, decides that smart grids are not beneficial enough and refuse to buy into the system, the organizations will feel the negative impact throughout due to this lack of participation.

If people decide to simply stop using appliances or turn down temperatures instead, the organizations will lose money. Issues with technology will essentially be based on the fact that the entire system will need to be redesigned and implemented. There will be great costs involved in all of the aspects needed for smart grids. Between the networks needed for two ways communication, monitoring devices at the electricity company as well as the dashboard needed at each home will result in a very high operating and implementation cost.

There are various situations that would hamper the development of smart grids. I feel the main hindrance would be the attempt to get end users comfortable with the user interface. Although people are more tech savvy today, a poorly designed and difficult to use user interface will frustrate people to the point that they would no longer buy into the concept. On that same note, some people will question whether letting the electricity company control their devices is in their best interest.

They will understandably question the integrity of electricity companies and wonder if they are actually and honestly trying to save them as much money as possible of just enough money to seem efficient. The ultimate cost of developing smart grids and the means of financing it is also a point that could hamper the development. Although assistance will be gained from the government, the remaining costs have to either be funded privately or by the end user. The transition itself could also hamper development. The simple concept of switching from the current infrastructure to smart grids will not be an easy task especially if there is some backlash from the consumer.

Another area of our infrastructure that could use smart technology is water. Just like smart grids, some type of smart technology for water could curtail the over usage of water that is prevalent today. The over usage of sprinklers, showers, tubs, pools could be exposed if they were monitored. Most people do not and will not realize this over usage until it is shown to them. Smart water technology can show the consumer the adequate levels for pools or the tub, the adequate time needed to water a lawn or take a shower.

There are always signs about being wasteful with water, “dry days” to conserve water, and “watering times” that people can use their watering devices. With smart water technology, these things can be done electronically and could alleviate the issues of having those people who do not care about water conservation ignoring the need. Water conservation is just as important as energy conservation and I feel that people would be more trustful and willing to let a company control this aspect of their everyday lives without feeling like profits are the forefront of the actions.

I’m not for or against my home or community being a part of a smart grid but if I HAD to make a decision I would so no. I think that there is enough education out here to realize the need to conserve energy and the tools needed to do it. Mainly the simple fact of turning down or off appliances when it is not needed will suffice. A product such as the NEST thermometer does the same thing as a smart grid would without the intrusion of the electricity company. The cost of a NEST thermometer would be a great deal less than having to invest in the installation of a dashboard for the home.

Also, would everyone be forced to buy into smart grids or would those on smart grids have a separate electricity company to deal with. And if so, what is the end result of having to separate the two in the same neighborhood, on the same street. Would they still pay the same rates or will those who decide not to switch end up paying more, or vice versa. I simply feel that there would be more issues to deal with if the switch was made instead of just educating people on how to personally conserve energy like we currently do.


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