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Texas: Ultimate real-world proving ground for everything Smart

While others plan and conduct pilots or initiate rollouts, Texas barrels on full-speed ahead with smart meters and the Smart Grid. What’s different about Texas is not its competitive retail market; that has nothing to do with “Smart” (the British English term for smart meters and Smart Grids). What’s different is that Texas has gone live with Smart elements that others are years away from, including utilities that have fully deployed smart meters, such as Enel and PPL.

Texas has 1 million smart meters installed on its way to 7 million by 2013. Just as everywhere else, the meters are used for monthly billing. What’s different? With a couple of notable exceptions, such as Toronto Hydro, Texas differs in that the detailed interval usage data from every smart meter is available a day later to consumers on a Web portal. Texas is the only place in the world today where 1) large-scale residential interval data is used for wholesale market settlement, 2) any customer with a smart meter can log in and approve delivery of their data to a third-party application such as Google’s PowerMeter or Microsoft Hohm (though both have yet to go live), and 3) Home Area Network devices are being installed and provisioned today, commercially and via open standards (ZigBee); any manufacturer can play.

Why is Texas important to every utility even thinking about the Smart Grid? It’s the ultimate real-world proving ground, with the electric companies, regulators, and technology companies learning by doing.

This state of 20 million residents sees the future and is embracing it.