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Stimulus Bill Includes ‘Smart Monitors’

Buried in this article from the New York Times’ International Herald Tribune:

Google taking a step into power metering

By Matthew Wald and Miguel Helft
Published: February 10, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO: Google will announce its entry Tuesday into the small but growing business of "smart grid," digital technologies that seek to both keep the electrical system on an even keel and reduce electrical energy consumption.

Google is one of a number of companies devising ways to control the demand for electric power as an alternative to building more power plants. The company has developed a free Web service called PowerMeter that consumers can use to track energy use in their house or business as it is consumed

"Smart grid" is the new buzz phrase in the electric business, encompassing a variety of approaches that involve more communication between utility operators and components of the grid, including transformers, power lines, customer meters and even home appliances like dishwashers.

"They’ve been putting a chip in your dishwasher for a long time that would allow you to run it any time you want," said Rick Sergel, chief executive of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, an industry group that sets operating standards for the grid.

If the utility could "talk" to the dishwasher, it might tell the machine to run at 2 a.m. and not 2 p.m., or it might tell the homeowner how much money would be saved by running the dishwasher at a different hour…

It also might be useful for plug-in hybrid cars, which will draw significant amounts of energy, perhaps doubling the electric demand of a small household. A smart grid would recognize the car wherever it was plugged in, the way a cellphone network recognizes a mobile phone when it is turned on.

The grid could bill the owner of the car for recharging the battery no matter where the car was plugged in. It would charge the owner a rate based on the time of day or night. If the car were left plugged in, the grid could decide when to charge it at the lowest rate.

The stimulus bill now going to a House-Senate conference committee has allocated $4.4 billion for "smart" technologies, including four million of these next-generation monitors, called smart meters. Proponents say that could make more effective use of existing power lines and generate employment.

"You can hire a lot of people to install smart meters," said James Hoecker, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has some jurisdiction over transmission lines.

Hello Big Brother:

The company has developed a free Web service called PowerMeter that consumers can use to track energy use in their house or business as it is consumed.

How long will it be before the government is doing the energy use tracking?

The stimulus bill now going to a House-Senate conference committee has allocated $4.4 billion for "smart" technologies, including four million of these next-generation monitors, called smart meters. Proponents say that could make more effective use of existing power lines and generate employment.

Not very long, we suspect.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, February 10th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

11 Responses to “Stimulus Bill Includes ‘Smart Monitors’”

  1. proreason says:

    Dear Moron,

    Can I have desert with lunch today? I haven’t had a desert in weeks, and hope you will relent, even though I know it’s bad for the environment.

    And Mrs. Reason wants to know if she can have a mammogram this year.

    Your fan,
    proreason

  2. Trogdor says:

    Start collecting dung for building fires to cook on.

  3. Reality Bytes says:

    Trog – Poor, poor Trog. You can’t cook on fires. It hurts the environment. Government will have us all on raw diets for our health, for their sake.

  4. pdsand says:

    That’s a bit like the remote-control thermostats that California was considering, where they’d be able to drive by and turn down your thermostat to a reasonable 67 or 68 if they found some jerk that had it turned up to 73. Sure it may be “smart” and “reasonable”, but it isn’t any of their god forsaken business.
    See, it’s a good thing that we finally hear what some of this “smart grid” technology is. From the name of it, you’d think, ‘yeah, yeah, I like smart, let’s do some of that smart stuff’. Then they tell us what a lovely bunch of tyranny it could all amount to, and it doesn’t feel so smart.
    I would have thought “smart grid” had something to do with the “grid” itself, say transistors and transformers and capacitors or new line materials that would reduce the amount of power that is lost along the power lines itself or something. Maybe transporting the excess power from cities and counties that produce excess to California or somewhere that has far too little? Who knew it was a term derived from ancient latin that translates roughly to “allows the government to control your electricity usage”?
    Plus, Powermeter, wow.
    Whatever happened to walking around to the side of the house and looking at the plain old regular meter that’s already attached to your house? If I’m not mistaken it has something to do with tracking the amount of energy used as it’s consumed. Whatever happened to getting a Georgia Power bill, and reading the section that says “usage”. Or are we supposed to choose between believing Google or our own lying eyes?

    • BillK says:

      That’s a bit like the remote-control thermostats that California was considering, where they’d be able to drive by and turn down your thermostat to a reasonable 67 or 68 if they found some jerk that had it turned up to 73

      Obviously, given the events post-inaugural, the White House would need to remain immune from such monitoring.

    • pdsand says:

      They won’t be able to find any wiggle room in the federal budget to put such a device on the white house. However maybe I could put together a spreadsheet that shows what the potential return on investment to the taxpayer is, and they’ll have to be swayed by that.
      Speaking of the taxpayers making bank through these programs, man, I can’t wait til all this money from stimulus and the nationalized banks starts getting returned to me on 1099-div’s. We’ll all be gazillionaires! Of course a gazillion won’t be worth what it used to be worth, after all the inflation.

  5. brad says:

    Anything the gov’t can or does monitor, has NOTHING TO DO with efficiency!

    What area the gov’t controls is efficient? Why doesn’t the gov’t monitor itself, and control itself? Because there is NO MONEY GENERATING in that. Once they get their claws in you, the lawyers will make arguments for taking more of your money. Everyone wants alternative fuels, gov’t wants control. Everyone wants electric cars, cheaper solar panels, wind power, recycle ideas, gov’t can only think of control, power, money money money! We don’t and never had a gov’t that tried to help us, why would we EVER think that suddenly they are concerned about our living habits now?

    “Well, if stupid people would shut off their television when they are not using it, then we wouldn’t charge them 5x the normal rate.”
    ~~Just imagine how many lawyers will get calls trying to fight an unfair bill because the cat opened your refrigerator while you were on vacation, and ate up more energy? Or any of the other 10,000 other scenarios that happen while existing and living? Make way for injustice, and more lawyers!

    UGH! It truly is time to move to another country and start over.

  6. 1sttofight says:

    Here is your remoTe control;

    MIDDLE FINGER EXTENDED.

  7. aze_216 says:

    In the future, government officials won’t have to send a worker to put an energy restricting device on a retired, WW2 veteran to shut off his heat and freeze him to death.. They can simply have an algorithm do it for them. What was google’s motto again… “Don’t be evil”… uh, yeah…

  8. Confucius says:

    I think Google needs to work on a fart monitor. You know methane is a greenhouse gas. (And it can be deadly too.)


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