News Source: 
March 17, 2014

It’s often said that the best way to reduce our carbon emissions is through energy conservation. One way to do that more effectively is by using computer technology to make the electric grid more intelligent. 

It’s known as smart grid technology and for the past two years, the U.S. Department of Energy has been spending $178 million to test it in five Northwest states.

One of the biggest demonstration projects is on the campus of the University of Washington where knowledge of when power is used is saving big money.

UW is the fifth largest employer in Washington state. Combine its staff with the students and pool all their energy needs in labs, libraries, dorms and medical centers, and its usage is considerable.

“On any given day there are 60,000 people on the Seattle campus,” said Norm Menter, UW’s energy conservation manager. “So we take care of the environmental requirements for those people’s everyday life and work life.”

For the past two years, Menter has been immersed in smart grid technology with mixed results. A test of smart meters and digital dashboards showing energy use in freshmen dorm rooms didn’t produce any measurable evidence that shows awareness leads to conservation by consumers.