26 Aug '11, 9pm

How to get paid to save the electrical grid

On the hottest days of the year, it's not uncommon for regional electricity systems to become so overloaded by demand that they come within a hair’s breadth of failing completely. (It happens in Texas all the time .) Fortunately, utilities have come up with a cheap and easy way to overcome this problem: they offer their customers a cash incentive to sign up for a special kind of thermostat over which the utility has limited control. Then, when it gets nasty out, the utility can literally save the grid by turning up the temperature in your home just a teeny tiny bit. This is what's known as "demand response." The cumulative effect of knocking down the energy consumption of thousands (or tens of thousands) of central AC systems can be the equivalent of firing up an entire power plant. Not only is this good for the environment, it's great for keeping down costs. On the hottes...

Full article: http://www.grist.org/list/2011-08-26-how-to-get-paid-to-s...

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