Friday, June 15, 2012
Ontario increases smart grid investments
In Ontario, energy minister Chris Bentley has increased the region's investment in smart grid technology by millions of dollars in an effort to expand the utility advance's ability to impact consumers, who can benefit substantially from the technology. The spending will allow Ontario to work with Energate, a solutions provider who will help deliver residential demand response and home energy management systems to approximately 1,000 homes across the province in an 18-month period.
This project is expected to help create a better environment for smart grid deployment by making it easier for utility departments and consumers to control power distribution by managing their energy use more intuitively. The project's initial deployment will be a pilot designed to explore the potential of commercializing energy management systems and similar smart grid tools to help fuel consumer investments in the technology that can deliver major sustainability gains.
Bentley explained that the new pilot project will help the province take a key step forward in improving its investment in smart grid to help upgrade the utility system for the future.
"Smart grid technologies are the digital way of the future. It’s like taking our energy infrastructure from rotary phone technology to that of a smartphone," said Bentley. "Projects like Energate’s will also help develop the talents and skills Ontarians need for the jobs of tomorrow. When cutting-edge technologies and expertise are cultivated in the province, everybody wins."
The current plan is to use Energate's line of home energy management products to help consumers control their power use in a more intelligent manner, bringing out some of the core benefits offered by smart grid. This will be accomplished through the deployment of smartphone-based home management applications, smart thermostats and similar technologies.
Reaching out to consumers is one of the most important aspects of a smart grid deployment. As the technology has become more prominently deployed in a diverse range of locations, multiple recent studies have pointed to improved efforts to engage with consumers as a key element to the smart grid's future. Getting consumers to embrace the technology is vital to the smart grid's long-term impact on the utility grid, and projects like the pilot in Ontario could provide a framework for consumer smart grid efforts.
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