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A Comprehensive Look at Smart Meters






     The opening up of competition for the Texas electricity market not only provided consumers with the power to select their electricity options but also generated an increased awareness towards more efficient energy consumption and protection for the environment. This spawned the development of more innovative energy technologies such as smart meters with the ultimate goal of establishing smart grids.

Several locations across the nation have begun work towards this initiative with smart grid projects initiated in Boulder, Colorado as well as in Austin, Texas. Soon, other cities such as Houston will also phase out traditional meters and replace them with the more advanced smart metering system for its Houston electricity network.

The smart meters is an important part of smart grids and will be one of the main driving forces towards the transformation of the nation’s energy infrastructure and market. The following is a brief but comprehensive look at smart meters and how they can radically change the way users consume Texas electricity as well as the operational and income models for Texas electric providers.

What are Smart Meters?

Smart meters is basically a digital electric meter but instead of just providing readouts of the user’s electricity consumption, it is equipped with advanced two-way telecommunication capabilities that can send and receive information used to manage the electric network. In a smart grid, each home or delivery point in the network is installed with a smart meter that reads and transmits the Texas electricity consumption data to the provider’s central information system either through a Wide Area Network or the GPRS network.

The central computer system manages the whole information and communication structure of all interfaced electric network. It will also relay information or orders back to the consumer’s smart meter such as load limits, disconnection commands, activation, time zone switching, and other related processes.

What are the Benefits of Smart Meters?

The benefits of smart meters can impact both sides of the smart grid: the electric provider and the consumer. In addition, the use of smart meters also has a direct impact on environment protection. The following outlines these benefits as seen from these perspectives:

From the Consumers’ Perspective:

* Texas consumers have greater control over their electrical consumption by proving them with the ability to measure their energy usage in real-time or based on hourly increments.

* Consumers can select different pricing plans based on time-based rates and have the option to lower their consumption based on peak periods set by the utilities. This can give consumers significant savings on their monthly bills.

* Users can further increase their electricity savings by changing their electricity consumption habits based on their understanding as to what smart meters are telling them about their usage in real-time. Consumers can shut down appliances during peak periods or pre-program appliances and devices to operate only at predetermined time frames.

From the Texas Electric Companies’ Perspective:

* The Automated Meter Reading capabilities of smart meters allow for automatic and remote readings on consumers’ electrical consumption thereby removing the need for agents to go from house to house to read meters.

* Smart meters can be controlled remotely from the central information system proving utilities better management of the electric network.

* Faults and outages can be detected in real-time allowing for quick response times for intervention either by remote or by quick dispatch. Utilities can also monitor network irregularities and performance of transformers to detect and minimize losses.

* Consumers are billed based on actual consumption and not just based on averages and estimates. Fraud can also be easily detected through the smart network.

Impact on the Environment:

* With smart meters, consumers will have more efficient use of electricity and thus lower their electric demands. With lesser demands, there will be no need to build additional power plants that will generate greenhouse gases.

* During peak demand hours, utilities are sometimes forced to use “peaker” plants which produce higher carbon emissions. With the use of smart meters, consumers can reduce their demand during peak hours thus eliminating the need for “peaker” plants.




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About Shop Texas Electricity- Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at Power to Choose & Cheap Electricity & Business Electricity.


Posted on 2011-02-08, By: *

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Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author,


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