Get Smart

Before we wrap up this issue of Bandwidth, a few words about smart grids. Before you tune out from this seemingly over-hyped and over-discussed topic, we’re with you – smart grids are not exactly the most exciting topic.  While touting the need for smart grids, there seems to be a lack of discussion of the benefits.  

Proponents of smart grids need to convey the benefits to drive awareness and adoption among businesses and households. Just like any broadband-enabled application, in order to drive adoption, change agents need to tell people why they should care and/or change their behavior – a “so what.”  Smart grids are here, they are great… so what does that mean to me?

Driving awareness and adoption (Step 5 of the Broadband Lifecycle) seems to be a missing component in many of the early smart grid initiatives.  And while finding the benefits that resonate for your audience is key to driving adoption – let’s not forget the first step – awareness. SNG’s recent studies show that the number of business owners and homeowners even aware of a “smart grid” falls under 5% of the population.


For those who do know the story of smart grids, the narrative seems to be closer to that of 1984’s “Big Brother” than 2010’s BP Oil Spill, creating more support than ever for the need for energy conservation and responsibility.  So taking a look at smart grids from a perspective of a broadband-enabled application, how do we drive adoption among our different audiences? 

The Pragmatist
There are a lot of reasons a pragmatist will like smart grids. Outages can be prevented through monitoring and proactive maintenance/repair of equipment as well as diverting energy to areas of need during peak demand. 

The Environmentalist
Smart grids help reduce community carbon footprints – and help individuals spread out their energy consumption for conservation.

The Thrifty Consumer
Recently Baltimore Gas and Electric estimated that the average home owner will save $115/year by using a smart meter and effectively controlling the way that energy is being utilized. Many utilities are giving households the opportunity to earn “Negawatts” – which serve as credits that translate to refunds.

The Business Owner
Business owners for any size business can work with their utility to create a control for the disbursement of energy to their facilities and drive down costs. At the same time, by implementing smart grids community-wide, costly power outages like the one in Washington DC this week can be avoided.

So let’s get smart about smart grids, remember that just like all e-solutions, you need to drive awareness and adoption (even if government regulation forces adoption).  At the end of the day, environmentalists and pragmatists alike will find smart grids a benefit to the community, with broadband once again enabling cost savings and – in this case – conservation.

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