(Host) Change is coming to the electrical grid… and to the electric meter in Vermont’s homes.
Over the next two years, utility companies in the state will be rolling out ‘smart grid’ technology, which will include bringing smart meters to every home and business in the state.
VPR’s Samantha Fields has more.
(Fields) Nearly 32,000 people in Vermont already have smart meters installed in their homes… these are the devices that allow people – and utility companies – to monitor their electricity usage in real time.
By 2013, 85 or 90 percent of homes across the state will be equipped with a smart meter.
Paul Hines is a professor of electrical engineering at UVM, and a grid expert. He says the smart grid will benefit consumers… in part by allowing them to see how much electricity they’re using, and when it’s most expensive…
(Hines) "People who consume electricity in the evening when it’s not expensive will find some ways to get benefit from that to reduce their rates."
(Fields) Hines says this will also have the added benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions…
(Hines)" If we can actually do 5 percent savings as a result of better information to consumers, that would mean that we’re doing 5 percent less greenhouse gases. So it’s a very straightforward manner that this will happen."
(Fields) Elizabeth Miller, the commissioner of the Department of Public Service, says that implementing smart grid will benefit consumers… allow utility companies to better monitor the system and fix outages… and reduce carbon emissions.
(Miller) "We’re going to have a real opportunity in helping the environment that we can’t even conceive of right now."
(Fields) That’s because the smart grid also allows for smoother integration of alternative, green sources of energy… like wind and solar… and makes the grid better able to support the introduction of electric vehicles.
The project will cost an estimated $138 million. Half of that will be paid for by federal stimulus funds… the utility companies are putting up the rest. And the plan is to have smart grid technology in place across the entire state in the next two years.
Commissioner Miller says the state is confident that will actually happen.
(Miller) "We have the project planned, and we’re going to get there."
For VPR News, I’m Samantha Fields.