From Scott Carlberg

There are more than 10,000 people talking about your house this week. Really. Your house is a hot topic at DistribuTech, an annual electric power transmission and distribution conference in New Orleans this year. Lots of people are there.

ECC thought you might want to know what they are saying. They want to know if your place will ever be really be smart – as in managing its own energy use, or even able to sell electricity back to the grid from a solar installation. “Hands-free” for you, just to borrow a phrase from the phone industry.

Connected thermostats help manage energy. Smarter home. 

The idea of a smart home has been in the energy headlines for a while, but the idea has not translated into reality on a big scale. “Currently, the best opportunity for demand-side management in homes revolves around smart thermostats,” said one report from the event. Demand-side management means reducing electric usage when a lot of people want power and it could be more expensive.

Technology is changing that. The news report said, “But a whole menagerie of smart, connected appliances are just around the corner, if the smart home bulls are correct. Meanwhile, residential adoption of solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles continues to grow, offering some real heft in terms of distributed capacity.”

Prosumers is the name given to people who make, consume and supply electricity. They are a source of power generation and a user. The downside for the grid – power from consumers has not been on-demand when needed. That is new for customers. “Consumers are no longer just a source of demand that needs to be satisfied but often are a complex combination of supply and demand requirements. Generators are not just distant, heavy, spinning machines providing dispatchable gigawatts…” but can be power made and stored at a home or business. (Source)

Currently, power from customers has been usable only when the consumer was making it, which isn’t always when it’s needed to meet demand That could change as better and cheaper batteries make electric storage possible. Then power can be available and tapped as needed. That won’t just happen automatically because new kinds of partnerships will be needed between utilities, customers and maybe someone to coordinate pricing, or make new technology available, when power is most needed.

People at this big energy event are thinking about how to smarten up all of us. Your ears may be burning this week as people talk about you, and your house.