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smart meter  (Source:
Trial gives 1,200 Liverpool homes and business powerline broadband with speeds of up to 200 Mbps

Scottish Power and Plus Dane Homes are using smart metering technology in a trial to send broadband Internet access to over 1,000 homes in Liverpool. 

Power-line based broadband, which is also known as Powerline Digital Subscriber Line (PDSL), is an alternative to using fibre-optics or telephone cables. It is capable of transmitting data as a high frequency signal, which is then sent over the electric grid. This technology was proposed before as an alternative for ADSL broadband, but was rejected due to powerline broadband systems interfering with radio frequencies. 

But now, this technology, coupled with smart grid technology, has proven to be advantageous for those who do not have good enough copper links for broadband or those who are off of the fibre network. While BT and Virgin Media are working to offer "higher speed links" using fibre optic cable, a combination of powerline broadband and smart grid technology is more than comparable.

Scottish Power started installing smart metering equipment in July 2010. Smart meters were placed in 1,200 homes, and the trial began that summer. The equipment is capable of offering broadband at speeds of up to 200 Mbps. 

With smart metering technology, smart grids can now provide better control over electricity use in the 1,200 homes and businesses in Liverpool. Smart grids also decrease the additional cost of having to install powerline broadband

In addition, Liverpool will be receiving electric vehicle charging points as part of the trial. They will be located at a supermarket, and Merseytravel has applied for £4m "to install 400 such charging points across the city." 

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clarification needed
By kattanna on 1/5/2011 1:11:33 PM , Rating: 1
smart grids can now provide better control over electricity use in the 1,200 homes and businesses in Liverpool

i'd like to see what they mean by "better control" and who has what control.

RE: clarification needed
By amanojaku on 1/5/2011 1:35:05 PM , Rating: 2
It means a couple of things. The first is that the consumer can monitor his or her usage. Ideally, the meters show your consumption in both units over time as well as monetary units. Second, for public facilities the power companies can shut down electricity distribution to locations that don't need it based on factors like time, use, maintenance, etc... There's a lot of money to be made from being green.

This has nothing to do with monitoring or controlling your home usage, so feel free to leave on all your monitors, or grow those indoor plants you've always wanted. The only time the utility company pays attention to your use is when it hits industrial levels, which is nearly impossible for even the greatest power hogs. Unlike internet access providers, the power company will gladly give you all the power you can pay for, unless the distribution center is overloaded.

RE: clarification needed
By Spuke on 1/5/2011 2:03:08 PM , Rating: 2
This has nothing to do with monitoring or controlling your home usage, so feel free to leave on all your monitors, or grow those indoor plants you've always wanted.
Are you just describing its intended use in the UK??

RE: clarification needed
By arazok on 1/5/2011 2:04:35 PM , Rating: 2
Technically, they allow you to see your usage in real time. This coupled with time of use billing (pay more for ‘peak’ energy use times) provides an incentive for you to move some usage to ‘off peak’ times (at night and weekends mostly).

In reality, apart from dishes and laundry, almost nothing can be shifted. Your fridge runs 24/7, and while shifting your tv/lighting/AC usage to 3:00AM may save some money, you’re probably sleeping.

Then it dawns on you what it’s all about. It’s about jacking your hydro rates through the roof, but providing cover because they leave the ‘off-peak’ rates lower and can always just say “you have the opportunity to save, so it’s not our fault you’re paying more”.

We’ve got these in Ontario, and it started off with attractive rates (you always paid less than the old fixed rate). Then once they had most houses converted, they cranked the rates through the roof.

RE: clarification needed
By Spuke on 1/5/2011 2:32:09 PM , Rating: 2
Then once they had most houses converted, they cranked the rates through the roof.
These are optional through some utilities in California (thank God not mine!). And there are LOTS of complaints of very high increases in prices after they're installed. I'll have to be forced to put one of these on my house.

RE: clarification needed
By arazok on 1/5/2011 4:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
Here it started as a voluntary pilot. Then mandatory on new homes, and now the government is simply forcing everyone in the province to upgrade and passing the costs on through the hydro bill. It costs on average $500 a meter to install, but for small rural communities the costs can be in the thousands of dollars a unit. The government installs them anyways, even though even under the most optimistic energy savings would take decades to recoup those costs. (But as I said, this is about raising rates, not energy savings).

It’s amazing to see this in action. There is an election coming next fall, so the government is sensitive to any issues at the moment. The media started making noise about the smart meter rates, so the government expanded the off-peak times – effectively lowering rates. However, they only granted an extra hour a day at the lower rate. The cost savings are negligible -- 1% at best-- compared to an average 30% increase over the past 3 years. It was enough action to kill any media attention and the issue faded from the headlines.

It’s brilliant – make a simple thing like your hydro rate so difficult to understand that you can simply play a shell game with the numbers, and get away with it indefinitely.

RE: clarification needed
By Iaiken on 1/5/2011 4:29:40 PM , Rating: 1
There is an election coming next fall, so the government is sensitive to any issues at the moment.

Then vote out the Conservatives who put this ridiculous system in place and demand that the opposition take issue with it.

The entire point of privatization was to bring the cost of electricity up to market rate, but to pin the blame on the big bad hydro companies... and balance the budget in the short term so they would look good.

Keeping Ontario Hydro and implemented a program to realize the actual cost of electricity would have been political suicide. That's without even accounting for a plan for Ontario to pay back the tens of Billions of dollars of debt that was stacking up faster with each passing year.

RE: clarification needed
By arazok on 1/5/2011 5:43:45 PM , Rating: 1
The Liberals brought in the Smart Meters. The Conservatives tried to bring in market pricing and some degree of privatization (also in an election year), and the media went ballistic because hydro rates were going to “skyrocket” from 4.9 cents a Kwh to 6Kwh. They lost the election, in part, due to this “cash grab” on behalf of big business. I recall everyone in the media was really worried about the poor pensioners on fixed incomes.

Now we have the Liberals with their Green Energy bullshit, and smart meters, and I’m paying 5.5 cents “off-peak” and 10 cents “on-peak” (my weighted average is 8 cents), and the media says….nothing. Apparently, pensioners can freeze in the dark as long as you slap green energy on the price tag. On top of that, rates are projected to increase by another 50% over 5 years to pay for all these windmills and solar panels.

RE: clarification needed
By rcc on 1/5/2011 6:53:49 PM , Rating: 2
Welcome to the world of liberal media. If you are liberal, or greenwashed, you can do no wrong. Otherwise one little toot in the market will get you demonized.

As they say, reality is nothing, perception is everything. Look who's controlling the perception of the masses.

RE: clarification needed
By Iaiken on 1/6/2011 11:06:23 AM , Rating: 2
Welcome to the world of political slant.

There was absolutely no reason to privatize the Ontario electricity system outside of realizing the actual cost of electricity and eliminating the subsidies. I'm all for paying my electricity bill based on my usage fair and square.

Smart meters were a Liberal construct, but are a reaction to the following two major problems with privatization of power generation and transmission.

1. No New Generation
2. Decommissioning of aging plants

These are problems that have plagued every privatized electricity market. New large scale generation projects are not being undertaken by private industry because of numerous barriers and as a result, installed capacity in Ontario is going to decrease by 10% by 2015 and another 10% by 2025.

This is further compounded by the fact that consumption is going to grow by about 20% which means that the grid will be running at 80% max capacity to satisfy 120% of todays current demand.

It's simple supply and demand and the guys over at the nukes and hydro plants are laughing their butts off because there is no appreciable cost to their electricity and that means 50% more PROFIT.

Once sizable profits like the above can be had, companies will likely develop the impetus to overcome the barriers that currently block large scale generation stations and grab a piece of the action since the reward for the risk will be well worth it.

This makes one solution to contact your representatives and put pressure on them to remove/lessen these barriers to new nuclear and hydro development. Ontario needs to increase installed capacity to ~41,000 MWH or else our shrinking maximum capacity is going to seem paltry and we will find ourselves at the mercy of expensive electricity imports from the neighboring markets.

I wrote the above forecasting tool while I was at the IESO.

A market demand of 21,000 MWH is pretty much normal for this sort of mild weather. Hoever, swing the temperature down to -15 and suddenly it will jump to 31,000MWH. This is pretty much the limit of our installed capacity, after which we will need to import power at considerable cost (almost double the cost in Ontario). The same goes for any +25 degree days in summer and the largest demand I'd ever seen while I was there was 46,000MWH which meant that almost 20% of our power was being imported at prices upwards of $180/MWH.

You want the cost per watt of electricity to go down then you have only one solution: tell them to foster the installation of more capacity. The market is already going to make it painfully expensive for people to waste electricity without the help of stupid smart meters.

RE: clarification needed
By NYHoustonman on 1/5/2011 5:16:31 PM , Rating: 1
A lot of this is fear of change, plain and simple. The more electricity a utility has to generate/distribute, the more expensive each additional Watt becomes. They're simply trying to flatten the demand curve and match generation with load, something that is hugely important as electric vehicles and distributed generation become more popular.

If people with variable rates use a ton of power at peak times, they're probably going to pay more. My two cents... Smart meters and the smart grid give people the opportunity to pay less, and if they're going to be stupid or lazy about it, it's their own problem.

RE: clarification needed
By Iaiken on 1/5/2011 4:21:37 PM , Rating: 2
We’ve got these in Ontario, and it started off with attractive rates (you always paid less than the old fixed rate). Then once they had most houses converted, they cranked the rates through the roof.

I used to work for the IESO on the automated generation control and market pricing and I can safely state that you have no idea what you are talking about. What you are stating is abject disinformation based purely on your own ignorance and conjecture.

The rate hikes had NOTHING to do with your smart meter and everything to do with the 8-year plan to slowly bring the cost of consumer electricity up from the protected subsidized rate (that had previously buried Ontario Hydro under billions of dollars in debt) to the actual hourly rate.

Previous to 2008, household consumers paid an hourly rate up to a cap rate that legislated by the Government of Ontario. The cap was previously $33/MWH back in 2004, so if the actual hourly rate was $49/MHW, you still only paid the cap and the Ontario Government subsidized the other $16/MWH for you. Even this fractional subsidy was costing the provinces tax payers over 770 million dollars per year. The cap was later raised incrementally each year until it was removed all together.

Tired of your power costing so much, then write your local MP and tell them that you want them to approve loans for more nuclear, more hydro, more natural gas generation. If you're a green freak, tell them you want tougher standards on power consumption. Either way, supply needs to increase or demand needs to go down. In the middle of winter and summer our consumption is so high that we not only use our entire installed capacity of 34,557MWH, but we import up to 9,000MWH from NY, OH, MB, QC and MI at a considerable premium.

To make matters more fun, our installed capacity is expected to go down to ~31,000MWH as older coal plants are shuttered. So not only is demand going to continue to slowly march upwards, supply is going to plummet by 10% and will further decrease by another 10% by 2025. There has been zero ground broken on new generation so unless we suddenly start conserving power considerably, we're all going to pay more.

Instead, of preaching BS on a tech forum, you could make your voice useful and write your MP and the Minister of Industry for more generation, or more conservation, or both. Otherwise, keep your misinformed and ignorant opinions to yourself.

I thought broadband over powerlines had died?
By Solandri on 1/5/2011 4:52:05 PM , Rating: 2
It generates enormous amounts of radio interference since the power lines are basically unshielded antennas. That's fine for the 50-60 Hz used in most of the world for power because that's not really a useful radio frequency. But 200 Mbps is smack dab in the middle of the prime x00 MHz range.

This is an old argument I've had with a previous employer for a while now. They were too cheap to upgrade their old deteriorating phone lines and replace them with either better lines or newer technology (optical). My argument was that they were going to have to upgrade them anyway at some point in the future. Why not just do it now and start reaping the benefits immediately? Worst case when you upgrade, you can make sure you do it right and install it in conduit, so any future upgrades can be just a cable pull instead of having to dig trenches everywhere to lay down new line. The one-time trenching requirement isn't going to go away if you put it off.

By PrinceGaz on 1/5/2011 8:35:12 PM , Rating: 2
Powerline networking is very contentoious here in the UK, as it is essentially unregulated RF transmission from said powerlines, which obliterates much of the shortwave radio spectrum, and in higher speed cases affects VHF and UHF transmissions too.

Personally I think they should be banned, as they are a dirty way of sending data where much cleaner ways are available.

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