Dumb meters get smarter

A new device could convert conventional electricity meters, making the smart grid cheaper.


Tendril, a startup based in Boulder, Colo., has developed a device that converts existing electrical meters into smart meters that can track customers' energy use as frequently as once every few minutes, according to a story in MIT’s Technology Review . Working with utility companies, Tendril plans to introduce it to thousands of homes this year.

The device could help speed the spread of the so-called "smart grid," a network of sensors and controls that could reduce energy consumption, enable the large-scale use of renewable energy, and save consumers money. Smart-grid projects will receive billions of dollars in funding under the stimulus bill signed into law in February. Tendril's device could be used by utilities to introduce variable-pricing schemes that discourage the use of electricity during times of peak demand, reducing the need for the most expensive and most polluting power plants. Eventually it could be used to help the electricity grid accommodate more electricity from variable sources of renewable electricity, such as wind and solar.

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