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“Smart Grid” generally refers to a class of technology that is being used to modernize utility electricity delivery systems. These systems are made possible by two-way communications technology and computer processing. This technology includes "smart meters" which are digital meters that play a key role in enabling the two way communications that characterize a smarter grid. The potential benefits are that a smart grid would enable utilities and their customers to track and manage the flow of energy more effectively (including the cost of electricity at a given time), curb peak demand, lower energy bills, reduce blackouts, and integrate renewable energy sources and storage to the grid (including electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle batteries). The smart grid also has the potential to increase energy efficiency, thereby reducing environmental impacts of energy consumption, and empower consumers to manage their energy choices.
In October 2009, Vermont’s electric utilities were awarded approximately $69 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds through Smart Grid Investment Grants (SGIG) to deploy smart grid technology. These targeted grants have been specifically directed to support projects that will increase efficiencies and decrease costs for both suppliers and end users and promote energy-saving choices for consumers while ensuring a more reliable and responsive grid when blackouts do occur, and a more flexible system to allow for the integration of renewable energy sources and storage to the grid, including electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle batteries. The funding and grants are intended to promote new energy investments based on open protocols and standards, and will be matched by industry funding towards the costs of approved projects. In the near term, Vermont’s SGIG will provide approximately half the cost of $138 million in infrastructure improvements that utilities will make across Vermont.
The statewide Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) application, known as eEnergy Vermont, was filed by Vermont Transco on behalf of all Vermont distribution utilities, with the support of the Public Service Department (PSD), Efficiency Vermont, and the Office of Economic Stimulus and Recovery, as well as Vermont’s Congressional delegation. This group applied for and was awarded the SGIG money for Smart Grid implementation.
On April 18, 2007, the Vermont Public Service Board initiated a proceeding to examine the potential use and deployment of smart metering technology by Vermont electric distribution utilities. The investigation also encompasses the possible use of alternative rate designs, including block rates, that could encourage energy efficiency.
Five of Vermont's electric distribution utilties are leveraging Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) dollars, and are currently in the deployment phase of their Advanced Meter Infrastructure Plans by installing wireless meters, and in some cases wired meters, for their customers.
Some Vermont residents may not want to participate in the smart grid for a variety of reasons. The Public Service Department (PSD) supports the ability for those customers to opt out, and filed Opt Out Principles in a proceeding under Docket 7307 which awaits a Board Order. Act 170 added 30 V.S.A. § 2811 (b), which prevents electric distribution utilities from assessing opt out fees. As the PSD acknowledged in its Opt Out Principles under Docket 7307, "The costs associated with a customer decision to opt out, as well as the steps needed to implement that decision, will vary from utility to utility." Some utilities may equip customers with old, analog meters, while other utilities may install advanced digital meters with limited communications capabilities. Each utility has information about their own specific opt out policies available on their website or can provide information by contacting their customer service department.
- 2012 Vermont Smart Meter Measurement Report, pursuant to Act 170: An Evaluation of Radio Frequency Fields Produced by Smart Meters Deployed in Vermont
- 2012 Vermont Smart Meter Measurement Report, RF Comparison Fact Sheet: Comparitive RF Fields Measured During Vermont Department of Public Service Smart Meter Project
- VT Department of Health Study: Radio Frequency Radiation and Health: Smart Meters
- VT Department of Health Fact Sheet: Smart Meters Fact Sheet
For more information please contact Evan Shearer at the Public Service Department.