Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Will Hurricane Sandy boost smart grid investment in NJ

NJ Spotlight reports:  "Until now, New Jersey has hardly embraced efforts to make the grid smarter, mostly due to costs, which could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. After (Hurricane) Sandy, however, both lawmakers and the president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities have said that the state needs to take another look at the issue and decide whether the benefits outweigh the costs." 

A smart grid is viewed by proponents as a planned nationwide network that uses information technology to deliver electricity more efficiently and reliably -- so much so that advocates have called it “electricity with a brain.’’
Its benefits apply to both consumers and utilities. For customers, it could lead to fewer and shorter service interruptions during major storms. It could also mean lower bills thanks to reduced demands for electricity. For utilities, it could improve grid reliability and diminish the need for expensive capital transmission projects.
Jersey Central Power & Light, probably the most widely criticized utility when it comes to restoring power after the recent storms, last week proposed a pilot project to develop a smart meter system for its customers.

Not everyone is convinced that smart meters are worth the cost
It doesn't provide the bang for the buck that some people argue,’’ said Stefanie Brand, director of the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, in a telephone interview. “They don’t pay for themselves and I don’t think they are smart,’’ she said, referring to the so-called smart meters. 
When a storm like Sandy hits the state, the outages are so extensive -- 2.7 million of New Jersey’s electric customers were without power at some point -- that smart meters provide little help determining where restoration efforts should be directed, according to Brand.

Read the full story here


Sandy and the smart grid: who won? 

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