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Power The Almighty Buck Upgrades Technology

Smarter Electric Grid Could Save Power 268

Wired has a timely story about putting more of the automated and non-automated decisions behind the use of electrical power into and around households. From the summary: "If the electric grid stops being just a passive supplier of juice, consumers could make choices about how and when to consume power. Power providers and tech companies are working to redesign the grid so you can switch off your house when high demand strains the system, or program your house or appliances to make that move." A similar story is featured right now on PhysOrg, highlighting a particular pilot project involving "smart meters" in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.
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Smarter Electric Grid Could Save Power

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  • Duh... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @12:47AM (#23297326)
    This is a no-brainer. Here in Switzerland, our houses are wired with meters that can shed load (water heaters, clothes dryers, dishwashers) during peak times. It's been this way for many years... even before these new technologies were available.

    I guess the US electric companies always found they could get reimbursed for expensive peak load plants so they had no incentive to apply intelligence to load management.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      How does the meter do that? Does it control the circuit breakers connected to these appliances, or does it communicate directly to the CPU of the appliance to tell it to turn off? Here, we have small VHF receivers that the utility attaches to central air-conditioning units. They send a signal, a relay interrupts the control circuit to the compressor contactor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jackb_guppy ( 204733 )
      Florida has the same, it saves you ~$10 per month for the power company to turn off high current items like - Air Conditioners. I had that cut, because of at home mom w/ 2 little ones. The house temperature hit over hundred, then it took up to 3hr to bring it back down 78, every evening. Where once it was cut (yes, they come out a cut a wire) house stayed even all day long, and our power bill dropped because the A/C worked less. Also mom and kids were not roasting all day, or driving to mall to keep coo
    • Re:Duh... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@yaTOKYOhoo.com minus city> on Monday May 05, 2008 @04:37AM (#23298264) Homepage Journal
      There ARE, interestingly enough, network protocols (such as BACNet) specified and approved for use in HVAC and other heavy-duty systems for intelligent controlling of devices by computer. Open Source implementations exist for these protocols. There are other embedded systems and remote devices control protocols: Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA, widely used by power generator companies), Controller Area Network (CAN, maybe in Linux, either now or soon) and Fieldbus are the two I know with open Source implementations. You could probably even use SCTP (already in Linux), SS7 or Active Messaging. Such systems aren't fast, so ACE's CORBA could do the trick. Grid Resoures for Industrial Applications also looks interesting. There's also the Open Robot Control Systems project. Domestic and street-level devices to control may not be widely available (or perhaps exist), but the low-level infrastructure certainly does.

      My question is not, then, why it is not in wide use, but rather why it took me a long time to dig up the project information on these protocols, why information tends to be very sparse from the hobyist/garage community, why there are no Woznik Mk. II's providing homebrewed household systems, or Prof. Heinz Wolff II's running an X-Prize for such systems. All the foundation work has been done, the protocols are all available, the proofs of those systems exist in many of the more sophisticated facilities, everything that preceeded the hardware revolution in microcomputers has for many years also existed in the domestic appliance level and even the local substation level. What we have not seen is much of a garage revolution, the way we have for many other technologies. X10's aility to turn lights on and off seems to have been about the closest attempt.

      Don't expect the Big Guys to do it. If there are trains that don't support regenerative braking yet, given the state of the rail network, then it is reasonable to assume nobody else in the upper echelons is going to care. This stage has invariably, for virtually all technologies out there today - including television and radio, been carried out by hobbyists, enthusiasts and homebrewers. My guess would be that if those hobbyists don't hobby along soon, this concept will simply never enter any market ouside of the real high-end. Mainframes will rule forever and the micro of the appliance world will never exist.

  • Ripple control ++ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @12:49AM (#23297332)
    Many places already use ripple control to control water heaters. So it's a matter of just extending this idea.

    Of course it is important to only control the right loads. Water heating is a good candidate, so might be charging electric vehicles overnight. Basically loads that need juice but not necessarily constantly.

    Probably a good idea not to do this to TV sets or medical equipment.

    • Re:Ripple control ++ (Score:5, Interesting)

      by peipas ( 809350 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @12:59AM (#23297394)
      I think a better solution for saving the energy drain of having a vat of water constantly being heated would be to instead install a tankless water heater. They are more expensive, but they heat the water real-time through a series of small tubes.
      • by sapphire wyvern ( 1153271 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:10AM (#23297462)

        [Tankless water heaters] are more expensive, but they heat the water real-time through a series of small tubes.
        I didn't know you could use the Internet to heat water.
        • by Macgrrl ( 762836 )

          I didn't know you could use the Internet to heat water.
          And waste all that energy created through flame wars!
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          I didn't know you could use the Internet to heat water.

          At first i thought "rofl!" but then I realized that this is precisely what watercooling does. Maybe one day someone will create a water heater for your coffee using your CPU's heat.
      • by jamesh ( 87723 )
        The advantage of heating water overnight was that you would be using 'off peak' electricity.

        On that subject... doesn't anyone know what the losses are on a well insulated water heater?
      • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:37AM (#23297570)
        With a tankless system, you need to provide power on demand or the customer gets a cold shower. All those folks showering at 6:30 am need their water heated at the same time.

        With a tank system you can spread the heating over the night (eg. turning on each tank for an hour means that you can service perhaps 6 times as many customers with the same peak load).

        Most retail suppliers get charged some multiplier of their peak load so are very keen to keep peak loads down.

        • In Poland we can order plan with "peak" and "off peak" prices for electricity. Then you can mount clocks which automatically turn your boiler on in "off peak" hours. Typically there are 2 hours "off peak" about 12PM, so you can still run boiler to have warm water in the evening.
      • by Eivind ( 15695 )
        This makes it significantly -worse- if the problem is a large peak in electricity-consumption, and lots of people want to shower at the same time, for example in the morning.

        My mother has a smart water-heater, because she has power-pricing that is such that the first 3KW she draws is very cheap, but usage above this costs much more.

        So, it normally tries to heat the water to 75C, which is then automatically mixed with cold water to deliver 60C water. If, however current power-usage is above 3KW, it lets the
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ThreeGigs ( 239452 )
        Want to know a strange, but true fact?

        It would actually be even *more* efficient, and a total lower carbon footprint (if you're into the greenhouse gas thing) if most consumers with electric water heaters would switch to coal-fired water heaters.

        Strange, eh? True though, because turning coal to electricity is only about 60% efficient. Plus transmission losses. Yet heating water with coal can be done easily with efficiencies of 90% and higher. Same deal with electric heat. We'd use less coal overall.

        Had a ne
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JoeD ( 12073 )
        I looked into this awhile back.

        The big advantage of the tankless water heater is not the energy savings, it's the not running out of hot water. For large families, this can be a lifesaver.

        And believe it or not, the energy savings may or may not exist. It takes a lot of energy to raise the water temperature from cold to hot in just a few feet of pipe. A well-insulated standard water heater can use less energy by slowly heating the water, and then intermittently applying heat to maintain the temperature.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by vlm ( 69642 )

          And believe it or not, the energy savings may or may not exist. It takes a lot of energy to raise the water temperature from cold to hot in just a few feet of pipe. A well-insulated standard water heater can use less energy by slowly heating the water, and then intermittently applying heat to maintain the temperature.

          And there may be other expenses involved in installing one. Since the tankless heater uses more gas when in operation, you'll probably have to replace the exhaust vents. Because of this, we were quoted $2,000 (two thousand dollars) for just the installation of a tankless heater. This is on top of the $750 for the heater itself.

          I cry BS on this. After my old 90s era tank leaked (about 10 years old w/ 8 year warantee) we got a new tankless total cost of parts and installation about $2K. Would have been much cheaper if we hadn't relocated the heater and all its pipes across the basement to make space for future remodeling. The heater itself was in fact about $750 as he states.

          Gas bill during the summer dropped more than half, and our only summertime gas appliance is the heater.

          Fact is, we only used the old tank about an hour a d

    • Every house or apartment I've ever lived in used natural gas to heat the water. I don't know the actual breakdown but I believe the vast majority of hot water heaters in the US use gas or oil to heat them, not electricity.
  • You wouldn't want to come home and find that all your Cherry Garcia has melted and your arugula has wilted because your "smart" house decided to take itself off the grid. You need to have some sort of backup power for quite a few appliances. A way to do this is to produce your own power with solar panels or wind turbines, and in fact a lot of people are already doing that (and pushing electricity back into the system as a net supplier!).

    But really, the way to avoid the crunch is to make the systems we use m
    • by hacker ( 14635 ) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:00AM (#23297396)

      "A way to do this is to produce your own power with solar panels or wind turbines, and in fact a lot of people are already doing that (and pushing electricity back into the system as a net supplier!)."

      And you know what the net benefit is of that? Higher power bills for the remaining people who do not generate their own power.

      I didn't believe it either, but NPR did a story on it a few days ago. Basically the power companies are REQUIRED to pay higher prices back for people who sell them back power... up to 7x in some cases. This means that the additional cost they pay OUT, comes right out of the pockets of everyone else. It's only $2-$3 per-month for most people, but that could still mean quite a bit if spread over a small town of subscribers.

      It's funny... we start using corn to produce ethanol, and people in Haiti and Darfur end up starving. We go green by producing our own power, and we end up paying more for it anyway.

      Seems like there's always someone looking to get ahead, by screwing over everyone else in the process.

      • That's not how wind power works out here in the mid-west. My friend looked into it (he has an old windmill on his property and thought he might as well replace it with something functional) and he said he would only get paid about 1/3 of the rate that we pay the energy company.
        <rant>Maybe NPR was taking an average of all states and since there are probably more blue states than there are red states, it would make sense. Although come to think of it the state I live in is a blue state at the moment...
      • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:59AM (#23297658) Homepage Journal

        Figures don't lie, but liars figure. They are required to pay more than wholesale because they charge the customers more than wholesale. It's a simple matter of fairness and incentive. Why would I find it fair to sell power TO the grid (often during peak houre when it costs the MOST) at $0.02/KWh and buy it back at $0.14/KWh (at night when it's cheap)?

        If the power company buys excess power at retail from home producers, they STILL gain because it helps them shave the peaks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ZorbaTHut ( 126196 )
          Because the power companies are providing a service, namely, the transmission lines.

          Why would you find it fair to sell used games to Gamestop for $1 per game, and buy games for $20 per game? Same reason - because Gamestop provides a service, and pays money for the right to provide it (in inventory space, real estate, and employee wages.)
          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            And a home selling power back reduces the load on the transmission lines (or more to the point delays the need to build more). It's not as if there are homes turning a profit on their power generation. The meter may run backwards occasionally, but they still end up owing at the end of the month.

            It's not the huge rip-off against the power company as it was represented to be.

            And frankly, I would NOT sell a $20 game back for $1.00 unless used games were going for $1.50 or so. I'd rather trade with someone

    • by blitziod ( 591194 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:06AM (#23297434)
      well large apartment communities are a place to start. Here in texas we have hundreds of large multi-unit communities. They almost all have terrible windows, doors and insulation. Require them to all have double pained glass ( instead of the large single pain sliding glass doors on the balconey) and decent insulation. I used to rent one of those and my 800 sq ft apt had a higher per month bill than my parents 2500 sq ft house did. And frankly that house was not all that well insulated either and it had an ancient AC unit from the 70's.
    • by Jesus_666 ( 702802 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @12:39PM (#23301990)
      Actually, as a German I'd say that America could save a lot of money by actually building houses. Seriously, the typical US American house would be called a very large garden shed in Germany - sometimes the only thing between the facade and the interior is a bit of drywall. In comparison, in German houses you can usually expect about thirty centimeters (about twelve inches) of aerated autoclaved concrete, which is a very good insulator; the roof is usually insulated with mineral wool.

      In general, our houses have greatly superior insulation and, if you're smart about when to open your windows, are mostly independent from the temperature outside. Granted, our houses cost half a million bucks but they're something you build to live the rest of your life in.

      Of course Germany isn't Florida with its hellish^Wtropical climate, but even in areas where aerated concrete, mineral wool and properly insulated windows can't keep your house cool they can reduce the need for air conditioning.

      Of course this doesn't work in those rather large parts of the USA where you have a fair chance of having your house destroyed by a tornado/hurricane/massive flood/earthquke/other natural disaster; at least not if you can't stand dropping a few hundred grand on a house every few years.

      A comparatively cheap and easy thing you can do is to apply mineral wool wherever possible. If you can find them, that it; when my brother installed the stuff in his house a few years ago he couldn't find a retailer who carried it in the Indianapolis area.
  • by IvyKing ( 732111 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @12:51AM (#23297346)
    The Milwaukee Road had a demand metering and limiting system installed on the eastern half of the Rocky Mountain electrified railroad in 1916 specifically to limit demand on the utility. OTOH, if they weren't Montana Power's largest customer, they were probably one their 2 or 3 largest customers.

    The primary benefit from a smart grid isn't so much saving energy as limiting peak demand - but it would help in making best use of intermittent generation (e.g. renewables such as solar and wind).

  • One of the biggest and EASIEST ways to change carbon footprints and reduce global warming contributions is to modify HOW we use electricity... period.

    Yes, there are always drawbacks to any new technology, but having electronic and electrical systems that are smart enough to modify their behaviors at given times or in response to given inputs is a real DUH!

    Everybody in the US (probably) has two or three such devices. Some alarm clocks behave differently according to day of week, some even allowing you to wor
  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:02AM (#23297404) Homepage
    In order to effectively balance sources from grid-tied power sources, such as wind and solar, the grid needs to be re-engineered. Load balancing is a part of this. Decentralized power has some enormous advantages.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by icebike ( 68054 )
      No the grid does not have to be re-engineered. All the inter-ties for micro-power already exist. All the laws are already on the books.

      The technology already exists.
  • 3rd world status? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:04AM (#23297424) Homepage
    This kind of thing sounds like something that normally would happen in a 3rd world country, not the US or Canada. Are we really to the point where we have to start shutting off hot water heaters because we don't want to re-invest in the electrical infra-structure?

    I'm all for more energy efficient appliances. I've got all compact fluorescents, have an automatic thermostat, and my computers power off when not in use. But not having hot water, or raising the temperature by 4 degrees? Forget about it.
    • by belg4mit ( 152620 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:18AM (#23297482) Homepage
      Would you set a kettle on to boil all day, in the off chance you might want a cup of tea too?
      Frugality is a virtue, gluttony is not.
      • Re:3rd world status? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jmv ( 93421 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @02:53AM (#23297834) Homepage
        There's two issues here. One is reducing the total energy consumed (i.e. not using it at all) and the other is reducing the peak power (choosing when to use energy). The former is always useful. The latter mainly works around infrastructure problems. In terms of reducing emissions, the only reasons I can see for changing when to use energy is to balance the load for "green" energy like wind/solar that aren't available all the time.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by blitziod ( 591194 )
      we should also mandate all new water heaters be tankless by 2015, or sooner. they save 8-27 % on energy for heating water. If the eco nuts would stop bothering SUV drivers and try to mandate changes that save consumers money WITHOUT drastic changes to lifestyle we could conserve a lot more.
      • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:56AM (#23297646) Homepage

        we should also mandate all new water heaters be tankless by 2015, or sooner

        Maybe on new construction, but it's not a simple plugin replacement for a tank. Anyway, why choose a particular technology over another? If you care about energy efficiency, just mandate that the efficiency of the water heaters be above a certain percent. We do it with refrigerators, why not water heaters?
    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @02:15AM (#23297694)
      One problem is that the peak and average demand on the power grid are quite different. Obviously we have to build the grid to handle the peak, or we'll get blackouts/brownouts. Now what something like this could do is help reduce peak demand. Try to balance things out so that there isn't as much usage during peak times. This in turn means we don't have to spend so much money building out more electrical distribution and production.

      This is already done on a large scale in the US. For example grid controllers will talk to a company about shutting down part or all of their usage at a certain time. A good candidate might be something like a food processing/storage facility. The controllers ask them to shut down their coolers at the time when homes are kicking up their usage (like around 4-7 PM). This isn't a problem for the company, they just cool it down a bit more before hand, and the temperature stays low enough.

      Well a similar thing could be applied to houses as well, in theory. Shut down or reduce certain things during peak times, or zone the usage so only part of the homes in a given area are using it at once.

      I'm not saying it is a cure-all or that we want it doing things like shutting down air conditioners for 3 hours in the desert or something, but there is potential to balance things out better and thus save money.

      • Well a similar thing could be applied to houses as well, in theory. Shut down or reduce certain things during peak times, or zone the usage so only part of the homes in a given area are using it at once.

        I'm sure you can do such a thing. The question in my mind is.. why? Electricity usage isn't new. Why are we looking at this now? Are people using a lot more electricity per capita these days? If so, why? All my appliances are becoming more efficient, so I'm likely using less power. Find the root of t
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
          Yes, people are using more power. We also have more people, and they aren't spread out evenly. Transmitting greater amounts of power becomes a greater problem, especially when it is AC as ours is. You either need higher voltage, higher current, or both. If you have higher current, you need larger wires to lower resistance, however the skin effect starts screwing with that in AC.

          All in all there is an increasing demand for electricity. That necessitates either upgrading the grid (some places are doing that,
  • is designed to bring Demand Response to the data center. It's called Demand Response Application for Power Event Scheduling.

    Oh yea.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demand_response [wikipedia.org]

    The first (horrible) PoC is available on launchpad.
  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:22AM (#23297500)
    Nothing new here.

    First consumers can already "make choices about how and when to consume power".

    Second, Utility company cut-offs to high-load things like water heaters already exist. Energy suppliers in some ares pay you a small amount to have the ability to drop your water heater elements during peak usage (cooking time and high air conditioning loads).

    There is nothing suggested in TFA that does not already exist.

    The most immediate single change that the average consumer can impliment is CFL lightbulbs. These are so effective that some Power companies PAY for the bulbs for you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by shermo ( 1284310 )
      Firstly, Consumers can "make choices about how and when to consume power" but they currently have no incentive to do so. Smart meters give them that incentive. Secondly, Water heater control isn't as great as it was, (I'm unsure of the reason for this, presumably they make up an increasingly smaller proportion of electricity bills) and is being dropped from most security of supply legislation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blitziod ( 591194 )
      it sounds like what we have in this country is a shortage of capital. Rich people all have the best insulation, etc because they can afford to spend the initial big bucks to save more down the road. But this hurts us all because most people can not. We need an orginazation to provide more capital for poor or working class americans to conserve. This would help the economy and the enviroment, plus ease financial burdens on lower income households.
      • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:53AM (#23297640)
        It takes money to save money.

        In Washington State, power companies (Puget Sound Energy for example) paid for all the CFL bulbs you could carry away as long as you paid the sales tax on the bulb.

        These things are do-able today, without major changes to the grid, or the buildings, or anything else.

        Of course, CFL bulbs are not without a down-side, namely the mercury in side. Power companies are also stepping up to recycle those, but I bet most end up in the trash.
        • by statemachine ( 840641 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @06:19AM (#23298574)
          Of course, CFL bulbs are not without a down-side, namely the mercury in side. Power companies are also stepping up to recycle those, but I bet most end up in the trash.

          The mercury "downside" is usually overblown. When compared with the amount of mercury (or any other toxin) that would be released into the environment due to a standard incandescent's power requirements, the CFL actually comes out ahead. And for older folks, the mercury amount is magnitudes less than the amount in the old thermostats and thermometers. Did you call Hazmat when you broke a thermometer? I doubt it, even though we all knew about mercury poisoning.

          Ask TreeHugger: Is Mercury from a Broken CFL Dangerous? [treehugger.com]
          Urban Legends Reference Pages: CFL Mercury Light Bulbs [snopes.com]
          Why Use CFLs? Environment [michigan.gov]

          Do handle light bulbs with care. However, clean-up procedures are fairly simple if one breaks. And bring old bulbs to a recycle center.

          Also, don't forget to recycle all your appliances, electronics, and batteries. The chemicals and elements contained in those are just as hazardous to your health and to the environment, if not more so. The places that take these items also take the CFL bulbs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I wonder if there would be a lot of interest both from lenders and potential borrowers to create a "green" microcredit program? A quick google search for green microcredit doesn't reveal anything interesting, but basically is there a program that lends people money at a low interest rate to invest in various energy saving technologies around the house? The borrowers could then take the savings and use them to pay back the lenders. It wouldn't be a charity, nor would it be a particularly great investmen
    • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
      CFLs cause a lot of polution for minimum value. If you want to change tech, go straight for LED. Almost no waste, highly efficient power-wise and will last for years without replacement.
      • by icebike ( 68054 )
        Not a solution till the are common on the shelves.

        You still cant find them in the stores to any reliable degree.
        • by AuMatar ( 183847 )
          True, but CFLs aren't a good answer either, due to the mercury. I'd stick with normal bulbs until LEDs come out. Its just a matter of productizing it, the tech has been there for a while.
  • Shedding load during peak periods for large industrial users truly makes a difference, and economically pays off for both utilities and them.

    However, for individual consumers, long-term, a "smart" grid that controls people's appliances will probably cost residential users much more than what they're paying now.

    Right now, I can turn on any device in my home and know it will cost me exactly the same price per KWH to run regardless of what the appliance or what time it is.

    Contrast that with demand-based pricin
  • Want to save power? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jjh37997 ( 456473 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @01:40AM (#23297576) Homepage
    Do you want to save power - here's an easy solution, make devices that actually TURN OFF. Most TVs, DVD players and other electrical devices use almost as much power when they are "off" as they do when they are on. While some devices always need to be on (e.g. tivos, routers, etc...) most would work just as well if there was a way to turn them fully off.
    • TIVOs can truly turn off. An "alarm clock" circuit running on rechargeable batteries, can be use to bring the system back on line with time to spare to record a show. Use a WAKE-ON-LAN for network activation.

      Home routers can be built the same way. With flash memory holding the last on-image a quick reload can happening as needed. Power down after say 5 minutes of not activity.

      Remove wireless circuit to again be battery powered. With auto-activation for re-charge when they run low. This way, they are l
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by subreality ( 157447 )
      I think you're mixing your stories up. Most devices continue to use a small trickle of power even when they're soft-off, on the order of a watt or two. That's still a problem worth investigating, but it's only a small number of devices that use more than a few percent of their on power when they're soft-off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by thogard ( 43403 )
      If you keep repeating that, will it be true?
      My TV takes 3 Watts when off and 65 Watts when on and it uses that 3 W to keep the tube elements warm so I don't have to go out and buy another TV. There is a PC here beside my desk that also takes about 3 W so its going to use about $3.56 per year with the new higher rates compared with about $.024 per hour when its on. It uses that 3 watts to run in a suspended state so wake-on-lan works and it boot quickly. My cheap power meter (only reads it 1/2 w or .01A)
  • Frankenstien: It lives! It liiiiives!


    Frigingstain: Who the frack turned down the lights!

    Igor: It'sh ze shmart electric grid, shir.

    Frinkenstoin: Ok hunchie, turn down the smoke machine and let's try again.
  • This smells like over engineering. The real problem is that there isn't enough power generation capacity and transmissions lines in place. Even if you make the network 'smarter', you don't fix these things. Actually I really can't understand why this is even a problem that should be addressed this way. You have 300 million people in US and you can statistically calculate when and where you need power, all you need after that is enough production and transmission capacity, balanced with a billing that has si

  • by Saffaya ( 702234 ) on Monday May 05, 2008 @04:16AM (#23298198)
    1st Step :
    ~75% of power is nuclear generated

    2nd Step :
    At around 11.30 pm and until 7 am (or so), you pay less for your electricity.
    That means every one sets their tank based water heater to automatically use only night hours power.
    (you can still switch to manual if you run out of hot water).
    That way, all those heaters are off from peak hours usage.

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan