In the past, I have written how Smart Grids can transform how electrical utilities work and their relationship with consumers.
Employing home automation systems such as smart thermostats or smart automobile heaters could further decrease costs and increase efficiency. In the longer term, the introduction of plug-in-hybrid vehicles could really take advantage of this ability to time-shift demand.
In this presentation, the Chair of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission looks at how hybrid vehicles and smart building could move beyond time shifting to sell value-added gird regulating services to utilities. These services are required to regulate the voltage and frequency of the grid in response to variations in demand that occur throughout the day. Today, those services are provided by fast response generating plants such as gas generators or hydro turbines.
In one example given for electric vehicles, he notes that the value of those services in an existing trial is $6 per vehicle per day.
In a second illustration, he describes the financial impact of demand-side management reducing peak loads. In the example cited, $200 million was saved in one week. He also cites a study that forecasts smart buildings participating in peak load limiting could produce over $30 billion of cost savings over 20 years.
In both cases, the key element is enabling the grid to communicate with intelligent vehicles and intelligent buildings to respond in real time to changes in energy supply and demand balances.