A combination of technologies, including smart meters and thermostats with two-way communications, can cycle air conditioning and other appliances off and on for a few minutes at a time to cut customers' electricity bills while keeping them comfortable
[Note: Fyi, related article, The Kindred Spirits Project | Animal Health Alert - Dogs Reaction to Smart Meters – “One of my dogs awoke at the same time, wandering the hallways whining and crying. This dog refuses to sleep inside at night now, as the pulsed radiation also makes him sick. This dog had slept at the foot of my bed since the day I brought him home until the night the smart meter was installed. I have numerous friends and family who will testify to this, if called to do so.”Austin American-Statesman
In addition to their questionable economic value and privacy issues, there actually seem to be potentially significant health effects on people and now seemingly on animals. This article presents the first documentation of the health hazards of smart meters to dogs. The interesting point is that the dog has no concept that a smart meter was installed or that anything changed, so that any behavioral changes such as the one’s described cannot be written off as a negative placebo effect. This is the first dog in a clinical collection of individual cases for a study on the health effects of smart meters on our animal companions.]
By Laylan Copeland
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Read the full story
On Aug. 3, 2011, operators of the state's largest electricity grid watched as wholesale prices jumped fortyfold in a matter of minutes and Texans set a record for electricity usage.
Wholesale prices that had been $75 per megawatt-hour only moments earlier stayed at the $3,000 cap for about 4½ hours before dropping just as precipitously as they rose. The next day conditions worsened, as several power plants, including an Austin Energy unit, tripped offline because of equipment failure amid a record string of triple-digit temperatures.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the grid for three-fourths of the state, narrowly avoided a rolling blackout that day by urging residential customers to turn up their thermostats and by paying some industrial customers to interrupt their operations.
Since then, the debate among state officials has focused on how to encourage the construction of more power plants, but the state's consultants, the Brattle Group, have reminded officials not to forget the other half of the law of supply and demand.
"I agree we've needed more demand response for years," said Trip Doggett, ERCOT's president and CEO. "If enough people reduce (electricity) load, the price might not go to the cap."
But Doggett said it's not enough to rely on customers reacting to a crisis out of a sense of civic duty.
Consider Aug. 3, 2011, again.
Residential customers typically account for about a fourth of the peak demand for electricity on a spring day. But add air conditioning and residential customers accounted for half of the electricity demand at 5 p.m. on Aug. 3.
The 35,000 megawatts consumed by residential customers that day was four times what they consumed on a March day.
A combination of technologies, including smart meters and thermostats with two-way communications, can cycle air conditioning and other appliances off and on for a few minutes at a time to cut customers' electricity bills while keeping them comfortable.
"Residential and light commercial is the last tapped market for demand response," said Jeff Ebihara of Concert, an energy management company that has partnered with CPS Energy, San Antonio's city-owned utility.
Over three years, Ebihara said, the plan is to sign up 140,000 residential and small commercial customers as part of its Virtual Peak Plant — which would give the utility the ability to reduce 250 megawatts of power during peak demand.
By tying together control devices on air conditioning, pool pumps, water heaters and electric car chargers with two-way communication, the utility can reduce its need to buy electricity in the wholesale spot market when prices are highest.
In other news:
Horse Stable to Zetas Money-Laundering Case
From the Texas Observer | Full Story |By Andrew Wheat and Forrest Wilder (June 21, 2012) – A prominent Texas family with connections to the state’s top officials is alleged to have purchased and boarded horses for a Mexican drug cartel engaged in money laundering, according to court records.
Federal indictments recently unsealed in Austin allege that 14 defendants with Spanish surnames used elite U.S. racehorses to launder millions of dollars of drug money for Mexico’s ruthless Los Zetas cartel. The indictments also implicate the renowned Southwest Stallion Station breeding stables outside Austin, run by a veterinarian named Charles Graham and his grandson Tyler. Over the past decade, they have contributed almost $250,000 to federal and state politicians led by Texas’ top three officials. In 2008 Gov. Perry appointed Dr. Graham to the now-defunct Texas Department of Rural Affairs. The Grahams haven’t been charged with wrongdoing, and their names don’t appear in the indictments. But allegations made against their stables in the indictments suggest that the Zetas cartel paid the Grahams a small fortune in recent years. In all, Tyler Graham bought more than $1 million worth of horses that ended up in the hands of the Zetas cartel, which made at least $550,000 in payments to the Grahams’ stable, according to trade publications and the indictment. The Grahams didn’t respond to calls and emails seeking comment.While never mentioning the Grahams, the money-laundering indictment alleges that the Zeta conspirators paid their Southwest Stallion stables $550,000 last July to board and breed Zeta racehorses.
Since 2001, the Grahams have contributed $32,025 to Perry’s campaign account, according to state records. They’ve also donated to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst ($17,100), House Speaker Joe Straus ($15,500), a San Antonio Republican, and state Sen. Kirk Watson ($15,500), an Austin Democrat.