Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Yet Another “Smart Grid Promotes Conservation” Story

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The Times Green Inc. blog reports today on a study of energy use in 100 business and residential sites after a demand-response system was initiated:

A smart grid pilot project in Fayetteville, N.C., has resulted in an initial 20 percent decline in average electricity consumption, according Consert, a Raleigh, N.C. technology company.

Those numbers are based on the first month of the project, a joint effort between Consert and I.B.M. that installed energy management systems for 100 residential and business customers of the Fayetteville Public Works Commission, the local utility.

Consert attached controllers on hot water heaters, air conditioners and pool pumps and then let customers go online and set targets for their monthly electricity bill. Smart meters and a wireless communications system provide real-time electricity consumption data to allow the utility to cycle appliances on and off to achieve the savings and help it manage peak demand.

The customer sets up a profile detailing when they wake up in the morning, go to work, return home and what temperature they’d like in their home.

“The consumer can say ‘I want my utility bill to be not to be greater than $200 a month,’ and then we’ll look at their past bill history to see if that’s achievable and ask what they want to do to achieve their goals,” said Jack Roberts, Consert’s chief executive.

This is a good start and suggests that demand-response has potential. I’d be more confident in the results if this were designed as an experiment with randomized participants assigned to groups (e.g., no demand-response, demand response) and controls for residential and business characteristics.

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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