The wonders of the so-called “smart grid” have been touted by everyone from President Obama to Google, but one of the biggest remaining barriers remains connectivity. How do you pump data from thousands of individual power meters across a country back to a central utility for analysis?
General Electric will do it with WiMax. The company’s new smart grid in Michigan will be the nation’s first to use WiMax for connectivity. GE teamed with both American Electric Power Company and Consumers Energy for the effort.
“This pilot helps Consumers Energy evaluate the immediate benefits of smart metering, while providing the company with a powerful platform to adopt additional smart grid technologies to further increase energy efficiency, improve reliability, empower consumers with information and more-easily integrate cleaner energy sources,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president of GE Energy Services’ digital energy department, in a statement.
Besides giving utilities a better overall picture of their infrastructure and helping them respond to outages and emergencies more quickly, smart grids can help consumers by offering variable pricing for electricity. Making it cheaper, for instance, to run the clothes dryer at night rather than during the day.