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Sunday, October 11, 2015

A smart home market for buying and selling electricity

The customary 3-month billing cycle for utilities made sense when meter reading was done manually and electricity consumers weren't in the business of generating electricity from solar panels or supplying power from batteries.

Having to wait 3 months to be paid for electricity you supply to the electricity grid is no longer appropriate or necessary. Smart meters continuously measure power supplied from and to the grid and transmit this data at 15 minute intervals to the network provider.

"Cost-reflective pricing" - Pricing electricity to reflect short term fluctuations in supply and demand - can be most effective in influencing peak-period supply and demand when these price fluctuations are actually experienced in real time. If the averaged effect is only noticed once every 3 months in a quarterly bill for electricity, cost-reflective pricing has little or no chance to influence supply and demand decisions in the peak periods.

Though short term trading in the supply and purchase of electricity may not be for everyone, it could be available on the same basis as the stock exchange: for those who have an interest. A household or business with a large battery bank but no space for solar panels might wish to buy electricity at peak solar supply times when the price is low, then sell it back during overcast days in peak demand periods. The availability of a market to buy and sell electricity may be essential to encourage this type of entrepreneurial activity.

There are a number of Internet tools that are making it more secure and less expensive to construct such applications.
PayPal recently introduced a low-cost payment option for digital goods
PayPal recently introduced a low-cost payment option for digital goods

PayPal recently introduced a low-cost payment option for digital goods. Though electricity is not a "digital good" it doesn't require PayPal to provide posting and delivery tracking, dispute resolution and return-to-sender processing as it does for physical products.

Using PayPal eliminates risks such as this one at

"On Tuesday July 29 2014 we discovered that there had been a data security breach in the mycause system and donor credit card data from transactions was compromised.
The theft has been carried out by a sophisticated and highly coordinated group of hackers who have managed to skim credit card data as it passed through the mycause server to the payment gateway."

Other modular components can be incorporated. For instance:
  • There is no need to create user identifiers and facilities to reset forgotten passwords. Google account services take care of this functionality.
  • There is no need to construct a community discussion forum facility. Disqus provides the functionality for this requirement.
Google provides free software development tools for building robust and flexible web applications. The Google App Engine software development kit (SDK) for Python is one of several powerful development tools available for the task.

There are recently devised software tools with which to dynamically reshape each web page after the web server has sent it to the client device. That is to say a web page can format itself to fill a Tablet or desktop PC screen and reshape itself to suit a mobile phone upon inspecting the screen size of the device in which it finds itself.

"Play YouTube videos on your T‑Box" is an example of a web site that takes advantage of these development tools and the available ready-built modules to supply a community discussion forum, subscriber accounts and secure payment for digital goods.