Using smart grid technologies, the project provides 1,000 residences, 25 small commercial properties and three public schools energy data in real-time. Customers can now set and track utility bill budgets, use software to manage the electricity use of individual appliances, and even sell energy back to the grid when they are using less than they produce. By integrating smart meters, solar panels, electric vehicles and energy storage capabilities, the project is already seeing the benefits of smart grid integration and providing customers with control over their electric usage.
Some consumers are raving about the benefits of the smart grid, too. For Austin, Texas, resident Luke Downs, a participant in the Pecan Street project, access to the smart grid has changed his energy life. “Suddenly, I could see what I was doing,” he said. Downs, 44, lives in a 3-bedroom row house in what’s known as the Mueller neighborhood, a planned urban redevelopment on the grounds of Austin’s former municipal airport.
There’s a neighborhood in Austin, Texas where the refrigerators tell stories. The roofs are paved in solar panels. There are more electric cars per capita here in the Mueller community than in any residential neighborhood in America. It’s a kind of paradise and it could drive you nuts.
There’s a new resource for researchers on residential energy usage called Wiki Energy, which is a new initiatve from Austin, Texas-based Pecan Street Inc.
In most markets, rooftop solar panels are promoted as a way for electric utility customers to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel power and — eventually — save money on their electric bill. According to a new PSR Analytics report from Texas-based energy research firm Pecan Street Research Institute, residential solar systems, and particularly west-facing rooftop systems, may also act as a fairly impactful peak demand reduction device for utilities struggling to meet afternoon demand in hot summer months.