I'm spending the week in DC at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference. It's hosted by the BlueGreen Alliance an organization working to bring together labor unions and environmentalists. The alliance is helping to transform our economy by promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency, mass transit etc... All in an effort to create jobs for working Americans and at the same time reverse the effects of global warming.
Yesterday, I was able to sit in on a great seminar about smartgrid technology. NC State Senator Jo Sam Queen was on the panel and members of the NC Communication Workers of America also attended. Basically a smart grid relies on the expansion of broadband services across the country. Yet at this basic level the U.S. faces a big challenge. Currently in the U.S. 100 million people don't have broadband and over 14 million couldn't even if they wanted to. Those stats make us 15th in the world, behind South Korea, Japan and others. If you look at this from an economic perspective it's a great opportunity to create thousands of jobs, while at the same time creating a network that advances the medical, education and energy fields.
What I want to focus on is smart meters and how individuals can potentially manage their own power consumption. In today's world we turn the lights on, crank the AC and never really know how that decision is affecting our electric bill. With a smart meter we would be able to see exactly how we are consuming energy. You could potentially pull out your iphone and see exactly how much your spending on your AC or on that big flat screen TV. This knowledge empowers the average citizen and provides them with financial incentives to purchase more energy efficient appliances or simply decrease their energy use.
Studies have shown that consumers who track their energy consumption in real time save 5 to 15 percent or $60 to $180 per year. Smart meters would also enable dynamic pricing, this would allow home owners the opportunity to reduce their energy consumption during peak hours, save money and create a more reliable grid. If just half of American households cut their demand by 10 percent we could offset the C02 emissions of eight million cars. As Senator Queen said all we need is "a shot-gun wedding between utilities and the networking industry."
More to come from Green Jobs Good Jobs.