An Easy Smart-Grid Upgrade Saves Power

Conservation voltage reduction could be an easy win for smart grids

Less is more when it comes to beef on the bun (at least according to your doctor), and the same now appears to be true for AC voltage. Research by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), in Palo Alto, Calif., is confirming that many electrical devices work equally well and use less energy at lower voltages, and that offers utilities a big conservation opportunity. By trimming the voltage they deliver, distribution utilities in the United States could slim the nation's power appetite by 3 percent—the equivalent of unplugging every refrigerator in the country—according to an August 2010 analysis from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) (PDF).

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