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Tom Lombardo's picture
writer, Content Director Tohoca, LLC

Professor Emeritus of Engineering & TechnologyFreelance WriterInstructional DesignerArmchair PhilosopherTohoca, LLC 

  • Member since 2017
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  • Dec 3, 2020

An overview of the ways in which IoT and AI are making the grid more user-friendly, reliable, flexible, secure, and profitable, and how it could impact customers.


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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 3, 2020

But the average consumer doesn’t want to worry about demand and time-of-use pricing; they want an automated system that frees them from mundane decision-making, so utilities will soon allow a home’s smart appliances to communicate directly with the smart meter, which can tell the appliance whether to run based on the current rate and the amount of power currently being used by the household. A user can set priorities (e.g., Do I need a clean shirt before the loaf of bread is baked?) and let the system handle the load shifting.  

I'm curious to see these programs implemented in practice. They make sense at face value, and I think most people can rationally understand what these are doing, why they could be beneficial, etc. But I'm eager to learn from a behavioral standpoint: how often will people end up overriding these pre-set preferences? How often will they roll their eyes and say 'whatever, I need to use this appliance now' and undercut such smart program potential? 

Tom Lombardo's picture
Tom Lombardo on Dec 3, 2020

Psychological studies have shown that when a person can see the immediate consequences of their actions, they're more likely to alter their behaviors. From an energy savings standpoint, dashboards that show real-time consumption (sort of like a car that shows you instantaneous MPG) can provide that kind of feedback. Our power company doesn't have that (yet?), but they send me a monthly summary of how much I've saved in the TOD pricing program. 

To your point, suppose a person hits the override for a device. The dashboard could show how much money that will cost and ask, "Are you sure?" Of course, there will be situations where they'll simply eat the cost, but over time, they'll start to notice it adding up.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 3, 2020

That's a good idea. I've also seen dynamic pricing models be proposed with some sort of physical device that can change color-- say a thermostat that has a red light on when demand is peaking and prices are high. I imagine this kind of 'in your face' feature, like the dashboard you mention, would be key to success. 

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