Free Electric Power

Free Electric Power

The New York Times published an article recently on how TXU Energy (Dallas/ Fort Worth, Texas) is offering their customers free electricity during certain times of the day.

A little background may be helpful. There are three electrical grids that cover the mainland United States, essentially East coast, West coast and Texas. Several years ago, the Texas electrical power market was split into generation, transmission and distribution. The intent was to encourage competition at the generation level and distribution level where the electric power is used.

According to the article, the abundance of wind electric power generation has resulted in a surplus of power in the evening. The TXU strategy is to train their customers to shift their variable loads to the evening hours, hopefully reducing the peak energy loads during the day. The article interviews several residential customers who shift their washing machine and dish washer use to the evenings. All of this is made possible by the implementation of the industry term Smart Grid. Intelligent electric meters that can transmit and receive user level data make this time-of-day rate application possible. Is this the killer app that will help to justify the internet of everything?

I wonder if this program is available to large industrial users? A night shift from 9:00pm to 5:00am might be very cost efficient.

New York Times article: “A Texas Utility Offers a Nighttime Special: Free Electricity”, Clifford Krauss, Diana Cardwell.

-- Timothy Chen