Cisco has snagged a 70-home smart grid pilot project in conjunction with Yello Strom, a utility company in Germany that is ranked in the country's top 10 with more than 1.4 million customers.
Yello has been testing smart meters in partnership with Microsoft since 2008. The Cisco trial will make use of that technology to track consumption over an IP network. It will also allow home owners to set appliances to operate a non-peak times via "smart plugs" that can remotely control them. Kind of like when someone takes control over your desktop or notebook over a network. Here's another article that talks about the smart meters that are already in place.
The Cisco also is meant to be a test of applications that let customers measure and control electricity consumption for their electrical appliances, as well as the ability to make more efficient use of renewable energy sources (solar cells among them) when demand peaks.
I'm still wondering how all this stuff will get paid for, especially considering that it cost $220 for my husband and I just to get a little oven part last week during a 15-minute service call. Would those 70 homes be so willing to participate if they had to install the technology by themselves?
Guess that's a better question for when more smart grid pilots become real projects.