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Archive for Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Get a preview of smart meters at this year’s Lawrence Energy Conservation Fair

September 7, 2010

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One booth at this year’s Lawrence Energy Conservation Fair will have tools that almost every resident in Lawrence will be able to plug into soon to help save on the electric bill.

And the best part: It’s free.

At this Saturday’s fair, Westar Energy will have its smart meters on display along with a website that has been designed specifically to allow customers to closely monitor their energy usage and then learn how to conserve energy.

Thanks to a $19 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, 45,000 smart meters will be installed in Lawrence early next year. Anyone who pays an electric bill will have one.

And while you can ignore the new meter if you want, Eileen Horn, the sustainability coordinator for Lawrence and Douglas County, says it’s a great way to take control of your energy usage.

With smart meters, residents will be able to track their energy use by the hour. Someday, smart meters could connect to home appliances, so household consumption can be tailored around peak energy use.

“It’s a great opportunity to get a sneak preview at what information is available, what it looks like, how to get used to it,” Horn said. “You could be the first person on your block to understand how it works.”

Of course, Westar’s smart meters will be one of many booths offering practical and innovative ways to cut energy costs at the fair.

Here’s more information about the fair, which will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Lawrence Community Building, 115 W. 11th St.:

• Exhibits will include area builders, architects, insulators, heating and cooling experts, government agencies, nonprofits and salesman with alternative-fuel vehicles. The event is free and open to the public.

• Throughout the day, speakers will give presentations on sustainable building, state loan programs for home energy efficiency upgrades and plug-in electric vehicles.

• At 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., guided bus tours will leave the fair for the Lawrence Sustainable Homes Tour. On display will be homes where environmentally responsible building technologies and earth-friendly materials were used. The cost is $10 for adults and $3 for children under 14. Homes with passive solar designs, straw-bale walls, a living roof and geothermal heating and cooling systems will be on the tour.

• The Lawrence Transit Service will offer free rides all day.

For information, visit lawrencerecycles.org.

Comments

LogicMan 4 years ago

"Someday, smart meters could connect to home appliances, so household consumption can be tailored around peak energy use."

Also known as rationing, at least on my planet.

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justforfun 4 years ago

Why is the T free all day??

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Ken Lassman 4 years ago

I'll play the straight man: for newbies to try the buses for the first time and maybe they'll decide to start using it to get around instead of their car. Also, to reward regular users with a "thank you" day for their participation.

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average 4 years ago

In the fullness of time, there will be higher prices for use during peak times and lower prices at off-peak. That's the real advantage (to the utility) of smart meters. This is a complete necessity if plug-in-electric cars get over, say, 1/2-of-1% of households.

There won't be rationing, per se (unless we get to serious rolling blackouts), but there will be serious price incentives to use large appliances at the time that suits Westar. Electric cars, tumble dryers, dishwashers, and the like.

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LogicMan 4 years ago

"there will be serious price incentives to use large appliances at the time that suits Westar. Electric cars, tumble dryers, dishwashers, and the like."

And don't forget your ... air conditioning. Get ready to sweat. A lot.

"incentives"? No, disincentives, or "penalties". Economic rationing.

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Ken Lassman 4 years ago

You neglect to add to your list: to avoid having to build expensive natural gas and other peak power plants that will be needed to address peak energy demand times. If people are able to move their energy consuming activities away from peak energy times, we don't have to pay for new plants. Got it?

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hipper_than_hip 4 years ago

"Homes with passive solar designs, straw-bale walls, a living roof and geothermal heating and cooling systems will be on the tour."

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that Douglas County doesn't allow homes to be built with straw-bale walls.

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bearded_gnome 4 years ago

Big Brother is watcing. soon, Obama and the other nanny-state control freaks will be able to control your thermostat.
this is not free. you give up privacy and freedom. in the future: you will be ublicly shamed for your energy use. you will have hackers getting into your energy use tracking. what a great way to find out if someone's out of town! then, crooks don't have to "case" a house, they just hack your energy use. put it on the web? insane.

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snappromotions 4 years ago

Knowledge is power. I'm in.

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FreshAirFanatic 4 years ago

2 years ago Boulder announced they were going to become the world's first smart grid city. Environmentalist were overcome with emotion. What if every city would follow in Boulder's footsteps? They used Boulder as the bar of comparison. Even Lawrence's energy task force, which led to our esteemed sustainability coordinator, relied on much of what Boulder had already done.

2 weeks ago Boulder said enough is enough. Massive cost overruns among other problems has city officials wanting to remove their name completely from "smart grid city".

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/boulder-prepares-to-wash-its-hands-of-smartgridcity/

I'd love to see Ms. Horn's or Westar's response to that. How 'bout it LJW?

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Ken Lassman 4 years ago

Here's an article from the same source about Baltimore, which has decided to move ahead with the Smart Grid:

http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/baltimore-moves-forward-with-smart-grid/

So this idea can either be a boondoggle or a real benefit. Looks like the devil's in the details, i.e. making sure that customers don't end up paying for the upgrade in meters without accruing real relief in their energy bills. Looks like utilities are fighting to take advantage of Fed. stimulus monies, and to assure their profit margins, are asking customers to foot the remainder of the bill. If the KCC is doing their job, Westar should assume a good portion of the risk of the investment and not just pass on the cost to Westar's customers without assuring them of some real benefits in terms of energy cost savings..

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Mari Aubuchon 4 years ago

"If the KCC is doing their job, Westar should assume a good portion of the risk of the investment and not just pass on the cost to Westar's customers without assuring them of some real benefits in terms of energy cost savings.."

Does the KCC ever keep Westar from passing on their costs? Consider the rate increase (as well as the cost of the actual service) for their new energy efficiency program.

I am quite certain that we, the customers, won't be seeing any energy cost savings.

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Hadley_says 4 years ago

Smart meters?

What a great idea. I wonder if we could hook one of these up to Merrill to test the lower limits of the meter.

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Mari Aubuchon 4 years ago

This is one of the issues I worry about as well, particularly since my hubby and I both work at home. As soon as they start the variable rate, we will be penalized despite our generally energy conserving ways simply because we have two computers going and the ac set for comfort during the peak time of day. To have the ac cycling on and off would infuriate me. Here in Lawrence, we put up with the pollution (sulfur dioxide anyone?) from the coal-fired power plant at the edge of town yet, based on what is happening elsewhere, it seems that, eventually, we will no longer have control over our own usage.

This is also a concern, giving the "immaturity" of this technology:

http://www.pressherald.com/news/Are-smart-meters-worth-the-risk-.html

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