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Smart Grid Miami: FPL, GE, Cisco, Silver Spring Rolling Out 1M Smart Meters

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The smart grid is being touted as the Swiss army knife of cleantech — adding energy efficiency to the power grid, saving consumers money on energy bills, and creating jobs. That’s the way Florida utility FPL Group (s fpl) sees it, and today FPL, Cisco (s csco), GE (s ge), Silver Spring Networks and the city of Miami are announcing a large smart meter rollout in the Miami area that they hope will be partly funded with investment from the stimulus package. There’s a big press conference with the details at 10 a.m. (PST), but the Today Show has some of the details already in a couple different video clips.

GE will provide 1 million smart meters, and FPL Group CEO Lewis Hay tells the “Today Show” that if the “broad-based trial” is successful for that initial group, it will be rolled out to the rest of FPL’s 4.5 million customers. The initial rollout, dubbed Energy Smart Miami, will cost $200 million, and extending the smart meter solution beyond Miami will cost another $500 million.

According to the “Today Show,” the companies hope that half of the investment will be provided by the stimulus package (the “Today Show” phrased it as half will be provided by the stimulus, but I think it’s not official yet) and half by FPL Group. According to Silver Spring Networks, a startup that will provide the network connectivity, the companies are working to “ensure that the initiative meets President Obama’s criteria as a “shovel-ready” project to qualify for matching funds from…the federal stimulus package. Contingent on receiving this federal support, Energy Smart Miami could begin later this year and be completed by the end of 2011.”

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Just last week Vice President Joe Biden outlined a draft plan for how the smart grid funds from the stimulus package would be spent. Those plans went into a 20-day comment period last week before being finalized, and they include $3.4 billion in grants for technology development and another $615 million for demo projects of smart grid storage, monitoring and technology. GE has said it is hoping to tap into $2 trillion worth of government stimulus spending over the next three years to beef up revenue in its energy infrastructure division.

The “Today Show” shows clips of consumers using smart meters to control appliances and managing their energy consumption through an online web site, and it says the average resident in the trial saved 5 percent on their average monthly energy bill. GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt said that he thinks energy management will follow the way of consumers managing their finances and banking online: It will take time but will end up being a trusted, efficient consumer tool.

According to Silver Spring there will be initial trials in 1,000 homes in Miami that will use more intensive energy management devices, including:

  • “in-home energy displays or “eco-panels” to help manage electrical loads and lower power use during peak periods,”
  • “smart appliances that can communicate with smart meters to reschedule high-energy functions or switch to a lower-consumption mode during peak demand periods”
  • “programmable and smart-meter-controllable thermostats”
  • “demand management and demand response software that will manage consumer appliances, lighting and other devices using smart meters.”

When we get more details on what companies are providing the tech for some of these more intensive consumer energy management services, we’ll let you know.

Why Miami? The mayor of Miami, Manny Diaz, told the “Today Show” that it’s “on the front lines” of the global climate, and is one of the largest urban areas affected by rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes. And importantly in this down economy, the companies say that the smart meter rollout could provide 1,000 new jobs.

36 Responses to “Smart Grid Miami: FPL, GE, Cisco, Silver Spring Rolling Out 1M Smart Meters”

  1. Mr Skinner

    The so-called “smart meters” are already causing a controversy in California, Texas and Connecticut, due to electric bills skyrocketing after connection of the new meters.

    In Connecticut their Attorney General made the utility stop their planned rollout of 1.2 million “smart meters” and instead establish a small pilot program to test the meters and their results on electric bills.

    Florida Power & Light (FPL) is in the middle of their planned rollout of over 4 million “smart meters” here in South Florida, so I have been in touch with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC)and you can email them at [email protected]

    I think our best bet in stopping the South Florida rollout of “smart meters” is to get Bill McCollum, Florida Attorney General, involved as quickly as possible. His tollfree
    phone 866-966-7226. Maybe Attorney General McCollum could contact the Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for information on how he was able to stop the rollout of “smart meters” in his state. (CT Dept of Public Utilities 800-382-4586).

    I also have been in contact with the office of Florida Governor Charlie Crist (Governor’s Hotline 850-488-4441) regarding the “smart meter” controversy. I also contacted J R Kelly, Florida Office of Public Counsel.

    We must all step forward and let our voices be heard in opposition to “smart meters” BEFORE they are installed everywhere! With “efficiency pricing” already in use in parts of Europe, you will see your electric bills SKYROCKET, as President Obama has said will happen under his energy policy.

    is a grassroots group of Florida citizens who do not want a “smart meter”. We should be able to “opt out” and retain our current electric meter, but FP&L says SMART METERS ARE MANDATORY!!!

    If you are opposed to the “smart meter”, contact the Florida Attorney General’s office (866-966-7226)for starters, as well as the others listed above and let them know your concerns. Call today before it is too late. Once you have the “smart meter” there is no going back.


    • I am with NBC Miami and am interested in purposing a story concerning the implementation of smart meters. FP&L is more than willing to comment on the benefits of the smart meters, but I’m having a harder time finding those opposed. I’d appreciate it if you’d email me with more information about the Florida Citizens Against Smart Meters.

      You can reach me at [email protected] thank you

  2. Dan Burger

    The greatest advantage of the smart meter system does not ultimately favor the consumer in the long run. The meter will report the individual residence Power Factor as a part of the entire usage report to the utility. The power factor is like mpg, the more efficiently your home uses electricity, the higher the power factor. At a point in the near future, domestic utilities will adopt the “efficiency based pricing” that has begun to show up in European countries. This change in pricing will charge the same basic rates per killowatt, but a penalty will be assessed by the utility if your power factor is not at their “acceptable” level. This penalty will coerce millions of homeowners to spend money for the latest and greatest appliances and other products that use electricity, often money they can ill afford to spend. Sure, you will have greater access to controlling your usage, but rest assured, those more efficient units will not last as long as your current ones that work just fine, even if they cost a little more to operate. The utilities will deny this until the cows come home, so if you are one of their employees, wait 5 or 6 years after the meters are deployed to reply to this comment. The corporate response of “At this time there are no plans to implement pricing based on power factors.” are already to roll out from the Public Relations departments, so don’t waste the consumers time.

  3. EBizEnergy

    I am curious as to who is making money and how long this is sustainable. Consumers save on their bills. The energy service provider gets lower revenue from lower usage/bills. Vendors (GE, Cisco) make money by selling their equipment. So is the money to support allof this coming from the government? How is this sustainable at a larger scale?

    • SmartMeterRNDGuy

      To answer is simple savings = profits. The current estimate of the amount of power generated to the amount of power actually used is a conservative 2:1 ratio, it is likely higher. This is because power cannot be efficiently stored so much of it is wasted in filling up the back end of the grid where its generated and distributed. With real time feedback on usage (vs the once a month meter reads) that the smart grid provides Utilities can idle back much of the generation and synchronize it with demand in near real time reducing the overhead kept always available by a huge amount. The savings to power generation costs would be astounding, and they are sharing it with the consumer that goes the extra mile and consciously participates in lowering demand. Not to mention the generation of fossil fuel based plants would reduce their consumption and that is something almost everyone would appreciate as well, unless you are an oil company. :)

  4. SmartMeterRNDGuy

    To qualify for stimulus Shovel Ready project status, a majority of the money must be spent domestically. GE has no electric meter manufacturing in the United States (this is ALWAYS where the most money goes for these projects). (the big) BUT, Al Gore is on Silver Springs board as are some Hollywood types, not to mention the rather too close position GE has with the administration. This White House has already shown disregard for Bankruptcy Law to hand out favors to constituents. Will it bend its own rules and ship a majority of that money to an overseas based meter subcontractor for GE?

  5. I am very curious about exactly how this conglomerate is going to get “half of the investment will be provided by the stimulus package”. Most of the people I’ve talked to feel that although stimulus money is coming to smart grid, they have no idea when & in what form. I guess because the players in this particular group (GE, CISCO) are so big, they can take a chance that the goverment investmetn will be slow / never materialize. I would love to hear if anybody knows more about stimulus funding.

  6. Feedback works. Just having the information about power consumption available at one’s fingertips is going to change behavior. People will turn something off and see the savings. Then they’ll start turning lots of things off.

    I know that my driving is more economical since I bought a Camry Hybrid. There’s an instantaneous MPG meter that takes the place of the tach. You want to keep this at 60 MPH as much as possible, if not on electric only.