Message from GENERAL MANAGER DARREN SCHAUER
Who would have imagined that wristwatches would one day be replaced by devices that not only would tell us the time, but also analyze the number of steps we’ve taken, hours we’ve slept, calories burned and our fitness ranking compared to our friends?
From Fitbits to Wi-Fi enabled thermostats and appliances, the Internet—through Cloud-based applications—is changing the way data is gathered and handled. The use of these products is not just a trend, but a glimpse into the future of how the “Internet of Things” can help us live smarter and more efficient lives.
This term, which you will be hearing more about as consumers adapt to these devices, refers to things such as smart thermostats like Google’s Nest, home convenience gadgets like the Amazon Echo, and other home security devices and appliances. With software that enables smart devices to collect and exchange data utilizing the Internet, consumers have the ability to monitor home security cameras, lock the front door, and even control the temperature of their homes—all from their cell phones. These technological advancements were created with consumer convenience and efficiency in mind, and it’s predicted that the number of Internet-connected things will exceed 50 billion by 2020.
Although the Co-op has always been forward thinking in our use of technology, it is more important than ever that we explore innovations to ensure the GVEC electric infrastructure will be future-capable. As we embark on GVEC’s new five-year business plan and vision, we recognize these emerging “smart” technologies include utility- and consumer-owned Internet-enabled devices; together they will be the catalyst to the smart grid of the future in the coming years. With the installations of rooftop solar units on the rise and battery storage technology on the near horizon, it will be critical for GVEC to optimize its infrastructure to receive data from across our service territory in order to deliver power to members and redistribute any excess to others in the region.
In addition, upgrading our metering system will enable GVEC members to view their near real-time data so they can better monitor and control their electric usage. This will also help GVEC identify outages in real-time which will increase the benefits of our self-healing networks. GVEC is also exploring an incentivized demand response program that will work with Wi-Fi connected thermostats to control load during peak-demand times. This will benefit members in two ways. It will help to prevent failures on the electric grid due to load conditions. It will also assist with consumer savings by helping to decrease the Cooperative’s transmission costs in combination with greater efficiencies in member homes and businesses.
While these changes might sound overwhelming, they won’t happen overnight. With this being said, GVEC sees the “Internet of Things” as the next exciting technological stride that will transition the electric industry into a more consumer-focused era. Just as GVEC was there at the beginning when electricity improved our members’ lives, we will be with you into the future as we continue to look for ways to help make your life more comfortable and efficient.
I am always interested in your questions and feedback. Contact me by phone at 830.857.1152, email at email@example.com or by mail at P.O. Box 118, Gonzales, TX, 78629.