I have been been a bit behind in my Risk Factor blogging the past few days because I have been without electricity, Internet service, and for awhile, land line or cell phone service due to the massive snow storm that hit the mid-Atlantic region of the US over the weekend. More snow is expected tonight and tomorrow along with gusty winds, so I may lose power for a couple of more days. So if the Risk Factor blog goes quiet again, you'll know why.

When I wasn't outside shoveling frozen precipitation, I had plenty of time to ruminate in my chilly study about whether smart grid/smart meter technology would have help get my home's electric power restored more quickly. In my case, power was "restored" several times at intervals of 10 to 12 hours only to be lost a minute or two later. The information I gleaned from the very overworked and extremely tired power company crews trying to restore power in the area was that there appeared to be at least two problems involved - one was an immediate, heavy load placed on the local grid as everyone's lights, furnaces, heaters, etc. kicked on all at once, and the other being that there appeared to be some sort of "short" in the system. Finally, last night power came back on and stayed on.

I understand that smart meters will help with the load issue after a power outage by being able to turn off smart appliances and what not as power is being restored, and that they will also inform a power company about who has no power (is this an active inform, or just a passive one because the smart meter isn't reporting status information to the power company?)

However, can smart meters also help diagnose an outage? Can they tell the power company where power lines are down, for instance, or in my case, exactly where a potential short exists, rather than just a general area?

Anyone know?

Or are they just "semi-smart" meters?

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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