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By ABraxton on Apr 19, 2010 with 26 responses

Smart Grid Training Coalition Receives DOE Grant

The University of Houston Has received funding from the DoE to develop smart grid training programs.

The Smart Grid Energy Training Coalition has been awarded a grant of $2.5M from the Department of Energy for the purpose of developing a smart grid workforce training program. The coalition, led by the University of Houston includes CenterPoint Energy, San Jacinto College, the Power Technology Institute, SkillsNET and the Texas Business and Education Coalition.

“This grant is a tremendous achievement for UH and the coalition, which is dedicated to developing a regional and national skill center that will be the focus of hands-on training for electric power sector employees,” said Raymond E. Cline Jr., a research professor in UH’s College of Technology and program manager for the project. “The Houston region is engaged in significant build-outs of smart meter and intelligent grid systems that require attention to workforce training issues.

The University will develop a “hands-on” training program which will will focus on activities that support electricians, line workers, technicians, system operators, power system engineers, cyber security specialists and transmission planners. Hopefully other college classes online and on campus will follow suit and provide courses in this field.

“We are very pleased the coalition has received this DOE award for smart grid workforce training program development,” said Kenny Mercado, senior vice president of CenterPoint Energy’s smart grid deployment. “These funds will help provide training programs that are a part of our efforts to deliver more quickly the benefits of smart meters and the intelligent grid to Houston-area electric consumers.”

  1. By CEA on April 20, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Smart meters and smart grid don’t mean much unless we have smart people to go along with it. Part of better energy practice is to educate people on the implications of their daily lives. We need the skilled people of tomorrow to carry these technologies, but we also need “Average Joe” to understand how the energy from his outlet should be used.
    Want to learn more about balanced energy for America? Visit to get involved, discover CEA’s mission and sign up for our informative newsletter.

  2. By russ on April 21, 2010 at 1:25 am

    İt is the utility that would use the smart meter for control of some items – not the home owner. Most are like mine wich is a smart meter but really only provides information about consumption for three time periods. İ am on a flat rate basis.

    The smart grid is still a thing of the future for virtually everyone to the best of my knowledge. Smart appliances that can be controlled remotely by the utility (with the exception of AC in some locations – and those controls are of a different generation) are yet to come. 

    The average person can do a lot today if they so choose – waiting for the smart grid has no real meaning.

  3. By paul-n on April 21, 2010 at 3:16 am

    I would think the most important thing is to have a display, inside the house, that shows the consumption in kW, and $/hr, a bit like the mileage computers on a car.  Then, people will start adjusting their habits.  The ability to turn on heat or A/C remotely could be useful in some cases, but is really a gimmick, a bit like car remote starters.

  4. By Kit P on April 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    “but we also need “Average Joe”
    to understand how the energy from his outlet should be used.”




    “Then, people will start adjusting
    their habits.”




    CEA and PualN are repeating politically
    correct blather. If you need to be trained or you need a ‘smart’
    meter you are either do not care or dumb as a post.


    The reason most people do not care is
    that electricity is a very cheap commodity produced with
    insignificant environmental impact.


    Let say I run a 100 watt light bulb 10
    hours a day because I turn the bulb off when I do not need it. That
    is 10 cents for all the lights I need.


    So if someone want to explain why
    education is need and how consumers would change their habits with
    that knowledge, I will explain why you are dumb as a post. The
    benefit of energy use clearly out weights the cost.

  5. By russ on April 22, 2010 at 2:02 am

    While it is nice to know that Kit P can multiply 10*100=1000

    That was not the point of Paul’s post. Many household items consume amounts of power that the owner has no idea of. Playstations or Xboxes left on, any item left on while not needed. 

    The general idea is to use what power you need but not to piss it away regardless of it being low cost.

    Electric power generation does not have ‘insignificant’ environmental impact. To state that it does shows the state of ones mind!

  6. By paul-n on April 22, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Kit, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to run your nuke plant without some way of measuring the fuel usage, and the generation efficiency.

    Why should electricity consumers be denied this?  

    Mileage computers in cars are well prove to lead to reduced fuel consumption, and instantaneous electric consumption information does the same.

    It seems you would prefer that electric customers get minimal information and just pay the bill.  

    I’ve never been a fan of the old saying that you can’t manage what you can;t measure, but it IS a lot easier to manage when you have measurement. I see no reason why consumers shouldn’t have access to this, (if they are willing to pay for it).

  7. By Kit P on April 22, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Xboxes left on = CWD


    Russ is suffering from compulsive waste
    disorder, or CWD.


    “Electric power generation does not
    have ‘insignificant’ environmental impact.”


    It is clear that some of you do not
    understand the difference between ‘insignificant’ and ‘significant’.


    So Russ and Paul, if you can show an
    ‘significant’ reason to mind others business. If you think spend
    thousand of dollars so a consumer can make choices about ten cents is
    rational, I am ready to hear your logic.


    Since we can make a million dollars of
    electricity with 5 cents of nuclear fuel, it is worth paying a nuke
    engineer $100k to be on staff and manage fuel burn up.


    Russ and PualN are using emotional
    arguments not using numerical cost benefits. Since it is earth week
    many Americans are learning to be ‘green’ buy watching actors on big
    screen TVs educating them about vampire loads.

  8. By russ on April 22, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Kit P is suffering from the ‘know it all old goat’ syndrom as well as possibly being short on Prozac or similar.

    No need to show you anything – No desire to either! Others are not as foolish or as backward as you so they are worth thinkling about. İf anyone is minding the business of others it is the little admiral.

    Your 5 cents worth of nuclear fuel is a rather silly point without the capital cost considered. A similar point is used for solar or wind sometimes pointing out the ‘fuel’ is free – just as silly there. 

    We know the difference between significant and insignificant well – You belong to a rather exclusive club that claims electric power generation has insignificant environmental impact – what do you call the club? İ can think of several descriptive names though none are complimentary. 

    You sure do seem to be interested in Earth Week – possibly you have actiivities planned to participate? Myself, İ don’t believe in such things.

  9. By paul-n on April 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Kit said;

    If you think spend thousand of dollars so a consumer can make choices about ten cents is rational, I am ready to hear your logic.

    and then;

    Since we can make a million dollars of electricity with 5 cents of nuclear fuel, it is worth paying a nuke engineer $100k to be on staff and manage fuel burn up

    So let’s look at your logic.  According to you,it is NOT worth (the consumer) spending $1-2k to to save 10c

    BUT, somehow, if it is a nuke engineer, it IS worth spending $100k to save 5c.

    This bizarre attitude to cost management could only come from an industry that it so heavily government subsidised, that it doesn’t care about costs

    As for a million dollars worth from 5c, have you got a reference for that?

    Here’s mine, from the World Nuclear Association website;

    In January 2010, the approx. US $ cost to get 1 kg of uranium as UO2 reactor fuel is $2550

    At 45,000 MWd/t burn-up this gives 360,000 kWh electrical per kg, hence fuel cost: 0.71 c/kWh.

    So, according their numbers, 0.71 c of fuel will make 1kWh, or your 5c cents worth of fuel will make you 7kWh, and at todays rates of about 10c/kWh, that is $0.70 of electricity.    A return of 14:1, on the fuel cost, which is very impressive.  

    Less impressive is your claim of 1,000,000:0.05, or 20 million to 1

    Kit, I can only hope you check your design numbers and calculations more carefully than you do with statements you make here.  If you are in the habit of just grabbing the first numbers that come into your head, and being out by a factor of over a million to one, you are doing your industry a disservice, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near any plant that you have designed.

    Also, if that is your cost/benefit assumption, it is no wonder the nuke industry has to be so heavily subsidised.

    RR’s dictum is “first, lets start with the data” – you might get more respect if you do the same.



  10. By Kit P on April 22, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    “just grabbing the first numbers that
    come into your head”


    Actually that number came from the VP
    Nuclear of utility with 7 reactors. He was talking about the value
    of improved performance compared to cost.


    “RR’s dictum is “first, lets
    start with the data” – you might get more respect if you do
    the same.”


    Data without quality is useless. Data
    without understand why is useless.


    “Also, if that is your cost/benefit
    assumption, it is no wonder the nuke industry has to be so heavily


    So PualN do you have some data to
    support that claim? Of course not because the 104 nukes in the US
    produce the lowest cost base load power while paying a lot of taxes.


    “it IS worth spending $100k to save


    It is worth $100k to produce a million
    dollars more in electricity.


    So PualN, home work assignment. By
    improving the efficiency of a steam turbine, 50 MWe capacity is added
    without requiring more fuel. Other reliability improvement result in
    this power plant having a 95% capacity factor.


    Calculate the number of people you have
    to train and get them to change their habits using a smart meter if
    they will shift their hot water showers to a time of use with a 20%
    more efficient generator.

  11. By russ on April 23, 2010 at 1:47 am

    @Kit P – Have you ever been in a nuclear plant?

    Have you ever done any of the things you claim?

    İn the Navy – İ don’t doubt making E6 in less than 4 years in the late 60′s – you couldn’t help it if you were willing to stay in. At that time all you had to do was not screw up too bad, pass the rather easy tests and one was promoted. 

    Do your own homework. You seem to need it more than anyone! You must scan web sites to come up with some tidbit to throw out.

    İ do respect Ron Adams who does happen to be a Naval Academy graduate – someone who really has studied nuclear engineering – he talks sense.


  12. By paul-n on April 23, 2010 at 4:10 am

    Kit, Either your VP was quoting out of context, or you are.  Doing process improvement, by definition, results in zero increase in fuel.  So yes, you get your 50MW for zero fuel, if you ignore all the fuel you had to burn for the first 500MW.

     If he said “$1million of power from 5c of fuel” at an investor conference, he should be hauled up for making false and misleading claims.

    Data without quality is indeed useless, but so is data without context – which you failed to provide.

    AS for how many houses, lets see…

    My electric HW has a 3kW element, so 1000 houses will be 3MW, so we will need 16,670 houses to change to off peak hot water tanks  (not change their shower times) to create that peak saving.  At $700 for a twin element off peak unit, we are looking at about $12m – pretty good, I’d say.  And if we use a heat pump hot water tank (more expensive,  but more efficient) we will not only shift the load, but reduce it by about half. At $1500 for those fancy tanks (installed), that would be a total of $25m.

    Since, as usual, you didn’t give any hard numbers on your costs for a turbine and other upgrades, I don’t know if this is cheaper.  BUt I do know that at $250-500/kW, that IS cheaper than any new generation you can build.

    Also, it helps to keep money in the pockets of the consumers, letting the utility export the saved power to somewhere else.  

    But making life cheaper for the consumers doesn’t seem to be a priority of yours – you would rather keep their usage high to sell more power to them.  Thankfully, not everyone shares this attitude, not even  your PJM.

    If you are good at designing nuke plants then you should stay with it – leave the customers to people who actually care about them.


  13. By Kit P on April 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    “pretty good, I’d say”


    Of course you would PaulN. You can get
    any answer you want if you do not know how to get the right answer.
    Let an old environmental and mechanical engineer show you how to get
    the right answer following a simple and systematic approach.


    Step 1: How much ENERGY will a small
    cost effective efficiency improvement at as power plant that results
    in 50 MWe added generation?


    50 MWe X 8760 hours/year X 0.95 =
    420,000 MWh per year

    (rounding to three significant figures)


    Step 2: How much ENERGY does it take to
    take a hot shower?


    You can measure the amount of water
    used (which I have) with your low flow shower head (required by code
    since 1986) and multiply by the time it takes for a shower. For me
    that is about 15 gallons. Assuming that the water is heated 75
    degrees F, that works out to 9000 BTU or 2.6 kwh. Assuming a shower
    every other day, that rounds off to 500 kwh per year or 0.5 MWh per


    Step3: How much ENERGY can be saved by
    shifting energy use to a 20% more efficient generators.


    That would 0.1 MWh per years.


    Step4: Calculate the number of people
    you have to train and get them to change their habits using a smart


    That would be about 5 million people
    PaulN for each small improvement at a power plant.


    Let me explain some of the mistakes
    that PualN made. First like all who claim conservation is cheaper
    than new generation, they forget that maybe the cheap methods of
    conservation were done many years ago.


    When I move to Washington State, I was
    given two very nice low head shower nozzles when I paid the deposit
    at the city utility. Conserving electricity, conserving clean water,
    conserving sewage that has to be treated. The quality of shower is
    so good that I now give nice low head shower nozzles as gifts.


    About that time I tried to buy a ‘heat
    pump hot water tank’. The salesman looked at me asked me if I was
    from California suggesting that I might wait until I got my bill.
    This is the second mistake PualN made. When comparing the cost of
    conservation to new generation, he did not consider capacity factor.
    If that very expensive ‘heat pump hot water tank’ is sitting idle 80%
    the time of low demand, ROI is longer that the life of the tank.


    “But making life cheaper for the
    consumers doesn’t seem to be a priority of yours”


    Well I do not want PualN and his left
    wing nut jobs helping me by requiring expensive gadgets. Here are
    some suggestions for making life cheaper for consumers.


    • Make your own coffee in the
      morning so you do not have to idle your car at the drive through.

    • Make your own breakfast

    • Carry left over for lunch so you
      do have to drive some place for lunch.

    • Buy use Hawaiian shirts at a
      garage so you do not have to fly to Hawaii.


    At 2.6 kwh or $ 0.26 per shower, PualN
    wants me to look at a meter and change my habits to save a five
    cents. What next PualN, you want me to calculate how much I can
    save by making my wife get up to wash cloths in the middle of the


    ““pretty good, I’d say”


    What say you now?

  14. By russ on April 24, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Old environmental and mechanical engineer – who is that?

    What ‘small cost effective efficiency improvement’ at a power plant that results in 50 MWe added generation’ might you be talking about? What power generating company is so foolish as to have not done such a thing already?

    You say most of the easy things for energy conservation were done years back? No but maybe you stopped thinking years back. 

    Energy efficiency points to start with (some can be used in any home while some are for equipment replacement or a new home):

    1) The hot water heat pump – not the standard air to water heat pump designed for air conditioning/heating but one of the newer dedicated dhw units such as GE makes. At present they are cheaper over a life cycle than a solar thermal hot water heater 

    2) Lighting – CFL, new generation flourescent, LED and induction luminaries to start – great strides in efficiency!

    3) HRV (heat recovery ventilation) conserves heat/cool that you have already paid for when ventilating the home

    4) İmproved window systems with the current generation of coatings, films, gas fills etc

    5) For household heating the new generation heat pumps are ever more efficient – in the event natural gas is available it is normally the cheapest:

    a) ASHP (air source) where they operate efficiently

    b) GSHP (ground source) they tend to be most economical where the winter ambient temperatures are too low for an ASHP

    c) CO2 cycle heat pumps are arriving on the scene today – they have been used in Japan for years and are suitable for lower winter temps   than the ASHP

    6) Home insulation – many homes have high heat loss/gain due to lack of insulation, poor installation or simply inadequate insulation.

    7) Sealing the home – many homes and more specifically older homes are a drafty lot.

    The list could easily be extended if İ so chose.

    Kit P offered suggestions for making life cheaper for consumers that are pathetic at best – Homer Simpson style stuff.

    İ would not refer to Kit P as a ‘right wing nut’ (to use his term in reverse) as that would not be nice to conservatives – a group that İ include myself in. Guess İ’ll just settle for referring to him as someone that doesn’t have a full deck or has one short oar.

    We don’t want you to do anything Kit P – fortunately most of the rest of the world is not as hopeless as you! 

  15. By paul-n on April 24, 2010 at 1:49 am


    I answered the question you asked, which was;


    Calculate the number of people you have
    to train and get them to change their habits using a smart meter if
    they will shift their hot water showers to a time of use with a 20%
    more efficient generator. 

    (emphasis mine) The key word here being “shift”, as the discussion was about shifting demand out of the peak period – it was not about reducing kWh consumed (though that is a bonus, and the heat pumps reduce by >50%).


    To get the answer YOU wanted, you started off by answering a completely different question;

    How much ENERGY can be saved by..

    IT may have been different in the day when you were doing homework, but in my school you got no marks if you didn’t answer the question that was asked, regardless of whether you invented a different question to answer.

    And neither have you provided a number as to what the 50MW improvement cost.  And as Russ has said, if all the low hanging fruit had been taken, why had this 50MW improvement not been done before?  I would suggest appliance/consumer efficiency has improved much more (in % terms) in recent decades than nuke efficiency, so where are the greatest gains to be made?

    And, finally, since you are adding generation capacity without any transmission upgrade, and my one is reducing peak demand, which scheme is reducing load on the grid, and which is increasing it?

    part of the purpose of smart meters is to shift load to reduce grid peaks – you can add all the generation you want, but if the peak demand is close to the transmission capacity (or a line goes down from failure, blowdown, etc) then you are not solving the problem.


  16. By Kit P on April 24, 2010 at 7:18 am



    You are really doing a good job of not
    answering the question. You want data, I gave you data. You want
    calculations, I give you calculations.


    There is a reason I do not waste my


    Again and again PaulN you refuse to
    accept basic concepts. You have an idealized concept not based on


    Please tell me why spending $1500 to
    save 5 cents of electricity is going to save consumers money. Please
    tell me why you think anyone will read a digital display to save 5
    cents of electricity.


    I enjoy hot showers. No adults are
    forced to take hot showers. More than a billion people in the world
    would like a hot shower with clean water.


    You have a mindset about how a problem
    can be solved but you refuse to look at any data that will change
    your mindset.

  17. By Kit P on April 24, 2010 at 7:27 am

    Russ do you have any qualifications to
    discuss producing electricity and the environmental impact?

    Russ has stated before that he does not
    need to be qualified to state an opinion.


    So Russ since we know you are not
    qualified to give investment advice, what is the ROI on a low flow
    shower nozzle compared to saving 5 cents every other day on a $1500

  18. By russ on April 25, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Have a wonderful day Kit P. 

    Never anything original with you! Always same old, same old. 

    Since you are concerned about qualifications İ suggest you turn in your keyboard – or at least think before using it.

    The people that count can do their own math and see what is being talked about. Those people are not fooled by the smoke screen of caveman stuff you constantly throw out. 

  19. By russ on April 25, 2010 at 4:15 am

    For those that are interested:

    No one is suggesting that a perfectly good appliance be

    discarded. However, if replacing an existing unit or building new then the most

    energy efficient and economical model available makes sense.

    1) An electric hot water heater by definition has a COP of 1.0

    2) One of the new generation dedicated hot water generating

    heat pumps has a COP (referred to by Energy Star as ‘Energy Factor’) of between

    2.0 and 2.5 – meaning you use between 2 and 2.5 times less power than an old

    fashioned  electric heater would consume.

    From ACEE…..eating.htm

    Water Heater Type

    Efficiency (EF)

    Installed Cost 1

    Yearly Energy Cost 2

    Life (years)

    Total Cost (Over 13 Years) 3


    gas storage







    gas storage







    gas storage







    oil-fired storage







    Efficiency electric storage







    electric storage






    Demand gas

    (no pilot) 4







    heat pump water heater






    Solar with

    electric back-up






    1.Purchase costs include our best estimates of installation labor and do not

    include financial incentives.

    2. Operating cost based on hot water needs for typical family of four and

    energy costs of 9.5¢/kWh for electricity, $1.40/therm for gas, $2.40/gallon

    for oil.

    3. Future operating costs are neither discounted nor adjusted for inflation.

    4. Currently, there is too little data to accurately estimate life expectancy

    for tankless water heaters, but preliminary data shows that tankless water

    heaters could last up to 20 years. For all water heaters, life expectancy

    will depend on local variables such as water chemistry and homeowner


  20. By Kit P on April 25, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    “then the most energy efficient and
    economical model available makes sense.


    Well sometimes, if you are a very
    wasteful consumer spending $1000 could be a good long term
    investment. Do wasteful people making long term investments?


    So lets examine the numbers from Russ’s
    cherry picking web site. Checking prices my installed DYI cost for
    ‘Minimum Efficiency electric storage’ (12 year warranty)is $389
    compared to $750. My DYI cost for a ‘GE 50-Gallon GeoSpring™
    Hybrid Water Heater’ (10 year warranty)is $1439 (it is on sale)
    compared to $1600.


    So what does spending $1050, save you
    per year – $273 per year or 75 cents a day.


    Of course it depends on how much you
    use: from Russ’s cherry picking web site

    Showering = 20 gallons

    Shaving = 2 gallons

    Automatic clothes washing = 32


    We have a ENERGYSTAR front loading
    washer because according to my wife and Consumer Reports it does a
    better job of washing cloths. Since we have a septic tank, using
    less water is important. We also do not wash cloths with hot water
    very much.


    So if you are already conserving,
    spending $1000 on a heat pump hot water heater is consumer rip off
    brought to by Russ who is better at cutting and pasting than


    So if my hot water heater went out
    today would I buy a GE 50-Gallon GeoSpring™ Hybrid Water Heater?
    Of course, it is on sale.


    Yes, because we get satisfaction out of
    such things. The second reason is that we now live in a humid
    climate, a heat pump hot water heater is nothing more than a
    dehumidifier with the ‘hot’ coils in the hot water heater. Things
    like that make mechanical engineers get all tingly. The third reason
    is that this brand allows heat pump to be turned off in the winter so
    it does not compete with house heating.


    The last reason is subsidies. If there
    is a $450 federal tax rebate, I just love when the government gives
    me back some of the money I already gave them for doing something I
    would do anyway.

  21. By russ on April 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    @Kit P – aka the little admiral  - do you really believe your own ravings?



  22. By Kit P on April 25, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Yes Russ it is not a belief, it is an observable fact that Russ is better at cutting and pasting than



    Russ you seem to have an expectation
    that you can parrot from those even less qualified than you without
    any disagreement. Ge over it, and it on with providing some
    independent thought. Maybe we could have adult discussion.

  23. By russ on April 26, 2010 at 7:35 am

    @the little admiral – Like İ asked – do you really believe your own ravings?

    Didn’t even read what you wrote kit p – knowing it is all useless and an attack anyway.

    Perhaps you need to see a shrink – there seems to be something seriously wrong with your head.

    No one can have an adult conversation with you – pure fact!

  24. By Kit P on April 26, 2010 at 8:34 am

    “Didn’t even read what you wrote kit
    p – knowing it is all useless and an attack anyway.”


    So how do you know it is ravings and an


    I researched different options for
    supplying hot water. Went as far downloading the the specification
    and installation instructions for the GE system. Any DYIer can
    install one. Then I explain the factors that would motivate me to
    purchase one.


    I did not talk about the ‘Solar with
    electric back-up’ that I designed and built for $1000 compared to the
    listed $4800. My conclusion is the same. You have to use a lot of
    hot water for it to be a good idea.


    About the only ‘need’ a family has that
    requires that much hot water is washing diapers. Does anyone one do
    that anymore?

  25. By russ on April 26, 2010 at 10:19 am

    How to know it an attack? Easy, nothing you write is nothing more than attacking someone.

    You really need to see a shrink – maybe they can help you with the serious attitude problem you have.

    You seem to be Walter Mitty came to life – in your case a sour old goat, who can only dream about how he would do things if not denied the chance.



  26. By Pill AZ on April 9, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Interesting fact. Your information is great and very accurate. This is the most reasonable, comprehensive and agreeable post.

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