New Yorkers are again struggling in a battle that comes annually, how to beat the summer heat without denting the wallet.
For Councilman Eric Gioia, the answer lies in technology. In a press conference in front of ConEd’s headquarters on Sunday, July 20 Gioia advocated the mandatory installation of energy saving technology in New York City buildings.
As utility prices increase, the search for technology that reduces energy consumption and lightens the hefty summer energy bills is increasingly becoming a top priority. The simplest device for reducing energy bills and one that Gioia advocates is the “Smart Meter,” an advanced electrical meter that communicates energy consumption back to the utility co. through a network. It also provides a more detailed record of power usage, such as real time reads, power outages, and quality of power. According to Gioia, implementing a Smart Meter can save New Yorkers over 10 percent on their energy bills.
“Smart Meters will save New Yorkers money, and installing them in all new buildings will be cheaper then doing it retroactively,” said Gioia. "Smart Meters are an effective way to empower New Yorkers to reduce energy consumption, save money and ultimately improve the environment.”
Gioia pointed out that Smart Meters may also be a solution to a common summer time power issue, one that some living in Brooklyn experienced over the weekend, blackouts due to power overloads on hot days. "The Smart Meter helps prevent blackouts." Said Gioia
Already in use in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Canada, the Smart Meter in recent years has seen a rise in popularity in green-orientated states like California. In Austin, Texas, the Smart Meter is used in 200,000 homes and another 300,000 are expected by 2009.
In New York, ConEd has installed Smart Meters for over 300,000 customers in Westchester County with 275,000 more residents waiting for an upgrade. ConEd, however, has yet to install the new meter in New York City.
"Con Ed is relying on 19th century technology to provide power to a 21st century city," said Councilman Gioia.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nationwide, the Smart Meter has cut over 10 percent from energy bills and reduced power usage by over 15 percent during peak hours. The meter also eliminates the need for utility workers to manually check meters.
Also part of the wave of new technology designed to reduce electricity usage is the Smart Grid, which has been adopted by Boulder, Colorado making it the first city in the U.S. to use the system.
The Smart Grid is a redesigned grid that gives users control over the amount of energy used, said Raymond Gogel, the Vice President of Xcel Energy, in a conference on July 10.
“The [Smart Grid] is a combination of Edison’s pioneering technology and Bill Gate’s digital technology,” said Gogel.
Xcel Energy is currently spearheading the use of the Smart Grid in Colorado and has invested over $125 million in its development. Completion for the project is expected to be in 2009.