2012
09.06

Rising Electricity Rates

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for fall. This summer has been particularly hot across much of the country—causing states to teeter on the edge of not having enough power to meet electricity demand. As a result, many have increased rates.

As an example, Texas is currently experiencing an energy shortage that could potentially see millions affected by increased rates and rolling blackouts. Back in June, the Texas PUC (Public Utility Commission) approved a 50% increase in peak wholesale electricity prices—and more increases could be on the way. In a statement released this week, WhiteFence, a home-services provider of electricity, says the full effect of this price hike on consumers is still pending—though some may already see increases in bills for August.

Texas faced a number of challenges with electricity demand last year as well, when the state experienced rolling brownouts throughout the summer. Why? Simply put, there was more need for electricity than ever before and the current grid couldn’t meet demand. What is required? More power plants and a ‘smarter’ method by which to manage peak electricity demand. And Texas isn’t the only state that is in need of an upgrade—this trend extends across the country.

The good news is M2M technology providers and utilities are teaming up to find new ways and solutions to reduce mounting residential electricity bills and risk of brownouts.

For example, in August, Tendril announced it had worked with more than 40 energy providers in the previous five months to add 3.5 million households onto its software platform Tendril Connect, which allows energy providers and consumers to better measure and manage energy consumption. Through demand response and load-control programs, users can reduce peak load outages and high utility bills.

In a statement, Tendril’s CEO Adrian Tuck says preventing service interruptions in the future requires a mix of smart hardware, software, marketing, and education.

The challenge is consumers sometimes fear the smart grid or smart meters, worrying Big Brother is watching how energy is consumed at every hour of the day. But the fact of the matter is electricity demand is not being met and something needs to change. Each summer that passes brings a myriad of challenges to simply find new ways to keep the lights on.

I personally am excited to hear about the different M2M initiatives utilities and tech providers have in the works these days—and there are a lot of them. Using M2M to manage energy and electricity demand ultimately means fewer rate increases and brownouts for consumers, which means more enjoyable (and affordable) summers.

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