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Can the Grid See Your Power?

REC solar CostCo CalifThe benefits of a true “smart grid,” properly implemented, rise into the dozens. Among them is the enterprise’s ability to gain a clear view of both what it draws from the grid (i.e. energy consumption) and what it contributes (i.e., energy production, via on-site generation such as solar, wind and natural gas co-generation). For example, in the latest issue of EL Insights, New Belgium Brewing Company explains how its participation in a smart grid program allows it to use a mixture of on-site generation and demand response when demand on the utility peaks.

But for much on-site generation, the visibility only goes one-way. According to RenewableEnergyWorld, most distributed PV systems in California have only net meters, not the production meters needed to show how much power they generate in total. This means grid operators can’t track the power generated from a whopping 2.7 GW of assets – leaving utilities unable to account for that energy when forecasting load. Smart meters aren’t enough to track that production, and utilities are evaluating ways to get a better view of solar production.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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