Advertisement

Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2010

Westar launches website to help Lawrence residents with using smart meters

SmartStar programs will allow customers to monitor energy usage, costs

November 4, 2010

Advertisement

Westar Energy's SmartStar director Hal Jensen explains the company's new website

Hal Jensen, director of SmartStar programs at Westar Energy talks about the launch of the company's new SmartStar Lawrence website for monitoring energy consumption. Enlarge video

Hal Jensen, director of SmartStar programs ,talks about the new smart meters that will be installed at residential homes and their capabilities during an interview at the Journal-World News Center. After their installation, the technology that accompanies the meters will allow energy users to monitor their energy consumption and the cost of their bill online.

Hal Jensen, director of SmartStar programs ,talks about the new smart meters that will be installed at residential homes and their capabilities during an interview at the Journal-World News Center. After their installation, the technology that accompanies the meters will allow energy users to monitor their energy consumption and the cost of their bill online.

Most of us have heard by now about the smart meters that soon will installed in every Lawrence home. But somewhere between what smart meters do and how they connect to the smart grid, many of us have gotten a little turned around on what it will mean for our energy bills.

Westar Energy, the utility company that will be installing the smart meters next year, understands our confusion.

Westar has launched a new website — westarenergy.com/smartstar — that’s intended to help guide Lawrence residents through the process of getting a smart meter and tapping into the information that meters will provide on hourly energy usage. And by adding nifty jingles, colorful graphics and a perky voice to narrate short videos, Westar hopes the explanation won’t be too painful.

“We are trying to take a highly technical, engineering (subject) and get past that to what is it and how it benefits (the customer),” said Hal Jensen, director of Westar’s SmartStar programs.

The meat of the website is the tab dubbed the online dashboard. That’s where smart meter users can go to monitor their energy usage.

The meters, which were made possible through a $19 million grant from the federal government, will be installed into 45,000 homes in Lawrence. This January, a pilot neighborhood will receive the first 1,500 meters. Starting in May, Westar is expected to deploy the rest of the meters throughout the city.

A day or two after the smart meters are installed, customers will be able to start monitoring their energy usage online. Energy usage information on the website is broken down hour by hour and available as soon as the next day.

Consumers can also sign up for text and e-mail alerts to tell them when their energy bill has exceed a certain dollar amount or if they’ve reached a new peak in energy usage for the month.

“It’s a great teaching tool,” said Eileen Horn, the Lawrence/Douglas County sustainability coordinator

Horn was on hand Thursday to see Jensen show off the new website. She said the site would help not just residents better manage their energy bills, but governments as well.

Comments

Editorator 3 years, 5 months ago

Have any of the complainers really read how the energy usage is "shut down" during peak hours? Hardly an inconvenience. Wah wah. Scary big brother. Out in JC, my folks were offered free new energy efficient thermostats for trying the smart meters. Why can't I get one?

0

cheeseburger 3 years, 5 months ago

LJW - FreshAir made a comment about Boulder - the city that Lawrence apparently tries to emulate in all facets green and loony - running away from these things. In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, could you follow up on that angle to see if, in fact, these smart meters are all they are cracked up to be?

0

Centerville 3 years, 5 months ago

The rate increase that Westar has been given will, ostensibly, just cover the cost of installing 'smart' meters. In fact, the increase is hugely inflated so Westar can begin to recoup its investment in the I-70 windfarm, yet hide its true cost to construct and cost to generate from the public.

0

mr_right_wing 3 years, 5 months ago

This article didn't really get into privacy. I am already resigned to the fact that government will have just as much access to my electrical usage habits as I do, but will Westar be willing to sell or share my habits or 'profile' with the private sector? Will Westar be willing to provide information to companies that make more environmentally-friendly appliances? Will I start getting solicitations from folks who intimately know my electrical usage?

Guess I better go check out the website. Of course there's basically nothing I can do if they are willing to share and sell this information.

It's interesting how they're not making this optional, with incentives for so much off your electric bill if you participate.

0

cheeseburger 3 years, 5 months ago

Christine - you missed a key component of this program in your story - the ability of Westar to 'control' us, by shutting us down at times they deem appropriate, regardless if it is convenient for us or not. Let's report the whole story, not just the part that 'feels good' or sounds 'green.'

0

Zachary Stoltenberg 3 years, 5 months ago

Westar can have my old meter when they pry it from my cold dead hands. They won't come near my house with a "smart" meter. I'll go off grid before I allow the invasion of privacy and expansion of control that Westar is proposing. NO smart grid system anywhere in the country is running properly, many municipalities are tearing them out. Oh, but the "enlightened and educated" people of Lawrence, KS will finally be the ones to make it work, since we are so much better than everyone else... Puhlese, this will be a miserable failure just like is has been everywhere else.

0

FreshAirFanatic 3 years, 5 months ago

One nudge at a time.

Hal or Eileen...can either of you explain why Boulder is running like hell away from anything "Smart" after setting out to be the first smart grid city. Was it the millions in cost overruns? Inadequate equipment performance? Connectivity issues? All of the above?

These installs couldn't be timed any better. Food prices are about to take a significant jump. Oil is climbing. The dollar is being devalued. All of it just in time to have Westar debut the ability for time of day pricing!

It's a good thing Westar picked Lawrence to debut this program in. We're the only town in this state that is so out of touch with reality we think this is a good thing.

0

Boston_Corbett 3 years, 5 months ago

Soooo many puns can be written from that headline....

0

Number_1_Grandma 3 years, 5 months ago

Just trying to sucker us in and when usage is high, Westar will shut us down helping them not us.....no thanks!

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.