Over the next few years, BGE, Pepco, and possibly other power companies doing business in Maryland will begin to roll out the first phase of what is planned to evolve into a "smart grid" throughout the state. The first phase of the smart grid will be the installation of "smart meters" on homes and businesses. These meters will enable two-way wireless communication between electric meters, gas meters, and the utility companies.
In Maryland, Pepco customers will begin to have new meters installed first, beginning in the summer of 2011. BGE customers will begin to have meters installed in the fall of the same year.
Two way communications, as a first step to a smart grid, carries with it several potential benefits to both consumers and the utility:
- Utilities will be able to respond more quickly to outages.
- Consumers will have a clearer picture of their energy usage in real time.
- Utilities will be able to deliver electricity more efficiently and reliably.
- Through smart thermostats, in home energy displays, and soon-to-be-available smart appliances, consumers will have more tools than ever before to help lower energy usage as well as utility bills.
- Solar PV, electric vehicles, and wind power will be more compatible with the grid.
- Along with the installation of smart meters, utilities will begin to offer voluntary programs that allow consumers to receive rebates for lowering their electric consumption on certain days of the year.
BGE and Pepco have posted helpful literature about Smart Grid, and their plans for smart meter installation online: