As you all know, the electric grid needs to be reinvented, top to bottom. Easy to say, hard to do. Part of that is making pieces of the “dumb” one-way network more flexible.

Green Mountain Power in Vermont, which has a history of interesting innovation including a homeowner battery program that is says saves big bucks during peak power moments, is trying a pilot for service panels that are more than just a bunch of on/off circuit breakers. They’re made by a company called Span. Green Building Advisor has a story (here).

The Span Smart Panel is an interactive device that lets customers control power to individual circuits via a smart phone app, as well as manage the distribution of power to other devices, such as electric vehicle chargers and solar battery storage. The smart panel also can meter the use of electricity, replacing conventional meters now in use.

(It) would alert customers when the power goes out and allow them to manage backup electricity from a battery remotely via a smart phone.

Circuits are divided into categories—must have, nice to have, and not essential—and swapping circuits into another category is simply a drag-and-drop operation in the app,

“As people switch to solar and install more and more solar and more and more batteries and switch to EVs, they are going to need to do electric upgrades,” Kelly said. “They’re going to want more control over these systems and the current electric panel doesn’t always accommodate all of that.”

I have to say that my first thought is: Security. If I can control it remotely from a phone, so can a hacker. Personally, I’d prefer that they allow the app to be turned off and allow all this control only at the physical panel itself.

And, as is always the case with new tech, cost is an issue: At least $6,000 per panel. Regular ones cost at most $2,000.

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