New Innovations Make it Easier to Reduce Energy Use & Bills

With the rapid integration of smart technologies and a growing social movement toward sustainability, the world is going to become much more energy-efficient.

That’s the consensus of four innovative leaders who recently took the stage in a panel discussion at SDG&E’s 12th Annual Energy Showcase moderated by Scott Crider, vice president of customer services for SDG&E.

Smart City San Diego

David Graham, deputy chief operating officer for the City of San Diego and a champion of the Smart City initiative aimed at reducing San Diego’s carbon footprint, believes that present-day technologies when deployed widely are poised to make a big difference.

He cited the city’s adoption of smart streetlights and smart traffic lights. In February, San Diego announced an initiative to replace 14,000 street lights with energy-saving LED systems equipped with sensors. According to the city’s website, the sensors will transform the streetlights into “A connected digital network that can optimize parking and traffic, enhance public safety and track air quality.”

In March, the city also announced the installation of smart traffic signals that communicate with each other and help reduce stop and go traffic. Fewer idling cars at traffic lights, in turn translates into reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Big data makes saving energy easier

Imagine a future where personalization of energy is the norm, so people can simply set up their heating, air conditioning and other technology preferences and forget about it.

Brad Gammons, general manager of Global Energy and Utility Industry at IBM, spoke with enthusiasm about people being more engaged in making decisions about their energy use, and about the dawn of big data analytics, aided by advanced artificial intelligence, to improve both energy efficiency and safety.

During the panel discussion, Gammons also shared his view that the key to advancing sustainability, in particular the adoption of electric vehicles, is convenience – making it easy for people to find and use electric vehicle chargers, while providing transparency on costs and benefits.

At SDG&E, we’re making a big push to increase convenience for EV owners by investing in EV charging infrastructure. Under a proposal announced in January, we plan to install additional electric charging stations at locations like the San Diego International Airport, Port of San Diego, Caltrans Park & Rides and for use by delivery fleets, taxi/rideshare drivers and residential homes throughout the region. These proposed programs would build upon the company’s efforts to install electric charging infrastructure at 350 apartments, condos and businesses as part of the Power Your Drive program. 

Energy Storage: The last piece of the puzzle?  

The panelists expressed excitement about recent advancements in energy storage that will improve flexibility, enhance reliability and integrate renewable energy sources onto the grid.

We recently unveiled the world’s largest lithium-ion battery energy storage facility. The batteries act like a sponge, soaking up and storing energy when it is abundant – when the sun is shining, the wind is blowing and energy use is low – and release it when energy resources are in high demand. The goal of the storage project is to provide reliable energy when customers need it most, and maximize the use of renewable resources such as solar and wind.

Gammons predicts that new energy storage technologies will cause major shifts in the energy landscape. “It’s the last piece of the puzzle we’ve been talking about it in the past 15 years,” he said.

Energy Efficiency = Competitive Advantage

For many businesses, choosing to invest in energy efficiency can be a difficult decision as they balance the costs of running their operations. But Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s energy program, believes that more and more businesses will invest capital to make their buildings and operations more energy-efficient because doing so provides “a competitive advantage.”

California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister agreed with Cavanagh, that despite the upfront investment needed to become more energy efficient, it’s an excellent value proposition and good for the bottom line.

To learn more about our energy efficiency programs for businesses, including energy audits and technology incentives, please visit sdge.com/ways-save