Smart Technology and the Future of Energy

When you think about smart technology what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

For many of us, it’s our phones. Cell phones have come a long way since launching in 1984. Back then, the average cell phone weighed almost two pounds and allowed for 30 minutes of talk time. Today, cell phones have evolved to include web browsing capabilities, video streaming and personalized apps. More than 85 per cent of people in Canada carry smart phones and spend an average of three hours daily using them.

The most basic definition of smart technology is anything that offers interaction and control through the use of the Internet. In addition to phones, smart technology is now helping us get more out of our TVs, appliances, cars and home security systems. And this same technology can help us have more flexibility and control over our electricity.

It’s why we’re investing in smart technology to modernize Nova Scotia’s electricity grid. The first step in this transformation is happening right now as approximately 500,000 meters across the province are being upgraded to smart meters. This work began in late 2019 and will be completed in 2021. Once all meters in the province are upgraded, our smart technology will be turned on and customers will experience a new level of convenience and control over their electricity.

So, what exactly does that mean for customers?

Let’s face it, electricity meters aren’t something you interact with on a daily basis like TVs and appliances. The thing to remember is that with smart technology they can be. Not unlike how we used cell phones 20 years ago – to start and end calls – current meters are used to record and save energy usage data. The addition of smart technology will now allow for two-way communication between us and meters through a private and secure wireless network. It will also allow you to have access to your own daily electricity use through a private and secure portal. Imagine being able to set alerts to notify you if you reach a certain level of electricity use. Imagine understanding how much of your energy usage comes from various appliances. Imagine not requiring an on-site appointment because you are able to have your power connected and disconnected remotely. Imagine your meter notifying us when your power goes out, leading to a faster response time. All of these services will become a reality for Nova Scotians in 2021.

Smart meters are also just the first step in the creation of a “smart” power grid for the province. The electrical grid that has served us over the past century is evolving through smart technology. In the near future, individual pieces of the electrical system (like smart meters and smart devices) in both homes and businesses will be able to communicate with each other so that the entire system works together to use energy more efficiently. With a smart grid, energy generation and transmission is monitored digitally and depending on demand, the grid can decide how best to allocate power.

More importantly, the smart grid of the future will allow us to integrate more renewable energy like solar and wind into the grid and further our commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Pilot projects using the smart grid concept are currently underway across the province testing solutions like battery storage (the ability to use solar and wind to charge a battery in the home for backup power) and electric vehicle smart charging.

Our smart meter upgrade project is setting the stage for the future. Smart technology will be the foundation for enabling a cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy future for Nova Scotia.

To learn more about smart meter technology, visit nspower.ca/smartmeters.

 


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