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DOE: Information Key to Consumer Benefits of the Smart Grid

Last week, the DOE issued a clarification to its Stimulus Bill grant application rules: applicants installing smart meters must provide energy information to consumers as part of their project.

Feedback about energy usage, such as that provided by eMeter’s Energy Engage™ product, works. According to Oxford University’s Sarah Darby, feedback has been found to enable consumers to reduce their usage by an average of 5 to 15% in pilots undertaken around the world. A usage reduction of 5% would be the single largest quantifiable benefit of the Smart Grid. The 5% would amount to some $17.5 billion per year in the U.S. alone! To put this in perspective, it would cost less than $50 billion to provide smart metering to every U.S. power consumer.

eMeter applauds the foresight and consumer focus of Congress in establishing this policy. Visionaries such as Rick Boucher of Virginia supported its inclusion in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In Europe, where I’m based these days, the same policy is in place. Energy efficiency and energy information feedback were two key drivers in adopting the European Union directive. Under European law, 80% of consumers must have smart meters by 2020 and 100% by 2022. And, along with those meters, the consumers must receive more detailed and frequent energy usage information. This good public policy saves money and natural resources, and reduces carbon emissions.

- Chris King