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PSN on July 1, 2008 - 11:50am
High-speed Internet can be a crucial tool in cuttingAmericans’ energy costs through the promotion of telecommuting and moreefficientenergy use. For example, interactive monitoring of homes and officescan help to reducegreenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint while offering largeeconomicpayoffs. The implementation of smart grids would help manage theintermittency of renewable, environmentally friendly, energy sources.
Optimizing themanagement of energy supply and demand means a reduction in the likelihood ofcrippling regional blackouts or the need for keeping costly reserve powerplants online. Itis predicted thatwide adoption and use high-speed Internet applications can achieve what manyestimate is a net reduction of one billion tons of greenhouse gas over tenyears, which, if converted into energy saved, would constitute 11% of annualU.S. oil imports.
Statesshould promote telecommuting: High-speed Internet access is essential for enabling moreAmericans to occasionally work from home, commonly referred to astelecommuting. It is estimated that telecommuting may create billions of dollars in savings annually across the economy, by allowing businesses to save on physical space and relatedexpenses and employees to spend less time commuting (better for environment andproductivity). For example:
- Reduction in fuel use: If everyone who could, took full advantage of telecommuting, the reduction in miles driven would save $3.9 billion a year in fuel and the time savings would be equal to 470,000 jobs -- reducing our dependence on foreign oil, traffic congestion, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at the same time. Even incremental changes could have a huge impact. For every 10% increase in worker telecommuting, fuel use is projected to drop by 1.2 million gallons per week.
- Increase in worker productivity: Telecommuting has also been found to increase worker productivity by 20%-25%. When Cisco paid to have high-speed Internet installed in employees’ homes, the company traded wasted commute time for an extra hour of work each day. Other companies, such as AT&T and Merrill Lynch each saved $10,000 a year per employee through lower absenteeism alone.
A number of states are moving policies that recognize thebenefits of telecommuting:
- In Virginia, lawmakers enacted legislation, which required that the head of each state agency must establish a telecommuting and alternative work policy under which eligible employees of such agency may telecommute.
- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed an executive order creating the State of New Mexico Telework and Alternative Work Schedule Program. The executive order also called for technology improvements to increase productivity and support teleworking in State government.
- Connecticut, Vermont, and New York considered legislation, which if passed, would have required states to study, develop or implement guidelines authorizing telecommuting and work-at-home programs for state employees or study the benefits and other impacts of teleworking.
States considering legislating telecommutingand alternative work programs should ensure that such policiesare structured to protect workers against violations of overtime or other laborlaws.
AeA - Teleworkin the Information Age: Building aMore Flexible Workforce and a Cleaner Environment
Joseph P. Fuhr Jr.& Stephen B. Pociask - High-speedInternet Services-Economic & Environmental Benefits
Telework Coalition - TeleworkBenchmarking Study: Best Practices for Large-Scale Implementation in Publicand Private Sector Organizations
ConsumerElectronics Association - TheEnergy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impact of Telecommuting and E-Commerce
Reduceenergy usage with smart technology: Interactive control of homeappliances and their interaction with the overall power grid, can producesignificant energy savings. Electricity that flows in the home and workplace are currentlydevice-focused, so more precise control and “time shifting” can significantlylower demands on the power grid. Consumers could save nearly $23billion a year if they shifted just 7 percent of their usage during peakperiods to less costly times, according to research byCarnegie Mellon University.
With new technology, appliances can be turned off duringperiods of high electrical demand and give customers real-timeinformation onconstantly changing electric rates. The goal is to use advanced,information-based technologies to reduce consumers utility bills,increasepower grid efficiency, reliability, and flexibility, and reduce therate atwhich additional electric utility infrastructure needs to be built.States are promoting use of smart technologies and innovativeutility pricing mechanisms are currently being usedby several utilities in small applications, mainly for testingpurposes.
- Under Illinois Public Act 094-0977, each electric utility must allow residential retail customers in the electric utility’s service area to elect real-time pricing, based on a successful pilot program in Chicago.
- Other states, such as Vermont, while not requiring smart metering, are analyzing the benefits of such a program.
- The Maryland state legislature enacted HB 374 which dictates that the Public Service Commission shall evaluate whether “smart meters” and digital automation of the entire power supply system, commonly known as “smart grid,” would be cost—effective in reducing consumption and peak demand of electricity in Maryland.
- The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has teamed with utilities in the states[LM23] of Washington and Oregon to test new energy technologies designed to improve efficiency and reliability, while at the same time, increasing consumer choice and control. In the Olympic Peninsula, 200 homes are receiving real-time price signals over the Internet and have demand response thermostats and hot water heaters that can be programmed to respond automatically. The goal is to relieve congestion on the transmission and distribution grid during peak periods.
- The Hawaiian Electric Co., has been testing the technology since 2006, and expanded its pilot project in 2007 to approximately 6,000 more homes.
Create a Smart Grid: State leaders areincreasingly focused on creating a smart energy grid, which wouldintegrateadvanced functions into state’s electric grids in the hope of reducingcarbonemissions. These advancements will be achieved by modernizing the electric grid with information-age technologies,such as microprocessors, communications, advanced computing, andinformationtechnologies. Such changes willallow us to reply more heavily on environmentally friendly energysources, such as solar and wind power, help the system “self-heal”during power disturbances or physical attack,accommodate alternative storage options, and enable new servicesand markets.
2002Department of Energy report
Carnegie Mellon ElectricityIndustry Center - Impacts ofResponsive Load in PJM: Load Shifting and Real Time Pricing
PacificNorthwest GridWise Demonstration Projects
UtilitiesSee 'Municipal Broadband Wireless Smart Grids' as Best Way to Combat RisingFuel Costs
Smart Grid Provisions inH.R. 6, 110th Congress