Patience for the Smart Grid

When smart grid technology started gaining steam a couple of years ago, many people fell under its spell. Smart grid was touted as a way to save energy, save the planet, create jobs, make money, and enable other new technologies, such as electric vehicles. Is it any wonder smart grid hasn’t quite lived up to the high expectations? With such a burden of hopes placed on its shoulders, it’s no wonder smart grid has been seen as coming up a little short.

It’s not the technology’s fault. People are in charge on implementing and using the stuff, and as usual we aren’t perfect. Installing a successful smart grid system for consumers requires a lot of time, effort, and education, as well as some lifestyle changes. People are slow to change their habits. But things are moving along, perhaps not at the lightning pace forecast by some analysts but at a respectable rate. There are successful projects around the country, and the world, and more are coming all the time.

Just this week AT&T and Digi announced the companies are working on a joint smart grid solution, called Digi X-Grid Solutions. It’s a suite of products and services designed to “bring connectivity to energy-oriented devices in homes and businesses.” AT&T provides connectivity for more than 13 million electric meters, and the new Digi solution will offer applications for these smart meters.

The services will include consumer remote-monitoring of thermostats, utility load-control options, and consumer ability to monitor and control individual appliances.

The smart grid is only as good as the tools people have to take advantage of the data. Let’s hope utilities offer these types of services to their customers, whether they come from AT&T and Digi or somewhere else. And let’s realize that stumbles along the way are a natural part of changing the way we live.

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