Research & Additional Links

New York State's Reforming the Energy Vision

New York State's “Reforming the Energy Vision”, of which  Energy Smart Tompkins is a part:

Recording of presentations at a major conference on Reforming the Energy Vision:

Smart Grid 

The Smart Grid Consortium is a unique public-private partnership made up of major utilities, technology developers, academic and research institutions, and government and quasi-government entities. This website has various resources on a variety of topics.

Grid Integration and the Carrying Capacity of the US Grid to Incorporate Variable Renewable Energy. Summary: An abundance of new technologies are now available to produce cleaner, cheaper electricity. Many countries are deploying large amounts of solar panels and wind turbines. At the same time, information technology and advanced power electronics are hitting the grid around the world, giving grid operators visibility into and control over power flows and demand variability. Today, more than ever before, there is enormous potential to incorporate a great deal of low-cost, zero-emissions resources extremely efficiently. But in order to take advantage of these new technologies, system operators must develop new tools, market structures, and institutions to balance supply- and demand-side resources against one another dynamically. In short, they must build a flexible electricity grid.

Electric Power Research Institute's Report on Integrated Grid Benefit-Cost Framework presents a transparent, consistent, four-part methodology for assessing the benefits and costs of transitioning to a more Integrated Grid. This approach quantifies the impacts of distributed energy resources on the interrelated distribution and bulk power systems, and monetizes these impacts to inform decision-making. New pilot projects  will put the framework to the test.

Peak Demand

A U.S. Department of Energy report on the results of tests on smart meters and related variable pricing programs

European Studies

An independent research study from Europe which collected and compared a large number of pilots to demonstrate repeated and consistent results and give answers to a wide variety of concerns:

Health Impacts

On June 20, 2017, WRFI's Eco-Defense Radio interviewed Dr. David O. Carpenter, Director, Institute for Health and the Environment at State University of New York at Albany. The show will be archived and available at Dr. Carpenter believes there are significant health impacts from smart meters, has testified in court on a few cases in various states, and was an editor of a 2012 report entitled, The Bioinitiatives Report - A Rationale for Biologically based Exposure Standards for Low-Intensity Electromagnetic Radiation.  The FCC responded to the report  in this letter to the other editor, Cindy Sage. Science Based Medicine wrote an extensive review of the Bioinitiatives Report and said about the report, " extrapolates from unconfirmed (or unconfirmable) laboratory studies to make dire predictions of health significance of RF exposures to humans. In effect it assumes that the results are generalizable from laboratory studies in cells or animals to human health. At the same time it dismisses the reluctance of health agencies to consider reports of biological effects that cannot be independently confirmed, which is to say that they cannot even predict results in similar laboratory experiments by other scientists."


The smart meters that are being installed in Tompkins County will send information about your electricity usage via pulsed radio frequency (RF) to your utility company once per day. Most smart meters are installed on the outside of buildings and the new ones will simply replace your old meters.

Existing research on the health effects of RF emissions from electrical equipment focuses primarily on household appliances and devices such as cell phones. The most comprehensive study, to date, on the topic of the health effects of smart meters RF emissions was published in 2011. This study was produced by the California Council on Science and Technology following the installation of millions of smart meters in California. It was compiled by over two dozen research academics and other experts who had sifted through hundreds of articles and other research documents. Input was also received by expert professionals in biology, epidemiology, oncology, physical sciences, and bioengineering. They produced four key findings as follows:

Key Findings

1)Wireless smart meters, when installed and properly maintained, result in much smaller levels of radio frequency (RF) exposure than many existing common household electronic devices, particularly cell phones and microwave ovens.

2)The current FCC standard provides an adequate factor of safety against known thermally induced health impacts of existing common household electronic devices and smart meters. Thermal impacts are those where human tissue is heated by RF emissions.

3)To date, scientific studies have not identified or confirmed negative health effects from potential non-thermal impacts of RF emissions such as those produced by existing common household electronic devices and smart meters. (Non-thermal impacts are those impacts that arise from prolonged exposure to low-level RF emissions.)

4)Not enough is currently known about potential non-thermal impacts of radio frequency emissions to identify or recommend additional standards for such impacts.

Full report.

Distributed Energy Resources

Grid Integration and the Carrying Capacity of the U.S. Grid to Incorporate Variable Renewable Energy.

Summary: In the United States and elsewhere, renewable energy (RE) generation supplies an increasingly large percentage of annual demand,This white paper summarizes the challenges to integrating increasing amounts of variable RE, identifies emerging practices in power system planning and operation that can facilitate grid integration, and proposes a unifying concept—economic carrying capacity—that can provide a framework for evaluating actions to accommodate higher penetrations of RE. There is growing recognition that while technical challenges to variable RE integration are real, they can generally be addressed via a variety of solutions that vary in implementation cost. As a result, limits to RE penetration are primarily economic, driven by factors that include transmission and the flexibility of the power grid to balance supply and demand. This limit can be expressed as economic carrying capacity, or the point at which variable RE is no longer economically competitive or desirable to the system or society. Power systems already have some degree of operational flexibility, an ability to respond to change in demand and supply, as they must accommodate variable and uncertain load. Power system operators have thus been able to accommodate increased variable RE largely without substantial new investment in system flexibility, such as new storage, demand response, or generation dedicated to addressing RE variability and uncertainty. To achieve higher penetration levels, multiple grid integration studies in the United States have evaluated scenarios where an economic carrying capacity of at least 30% is achieved via transmission expansion and largely understood changes to system operations. Studies have also demonstrated that carrying capacity is not fixed and can be improved through technical and institutional changes. This creates the possibility to achieve even higher penetration levels through strategic investments in both demand- and supply-side sources of flexibility. Link to full report:

Distributed Energy Resources 101.The energy industry’s focus on DERs is a function of how important it’s become to understand the potential capabilities they have to offer. In 2015, U.S. electric utilities spent $103 billion in capital expenditures to maintain and upgrade the grid — and they now expect average annual spending of around $100 billion through 2018, even as growth in electricity demand slows.

Ever wonder how the USA's electric grid works? EPA has a comprehensive powerpoint on this topic, including explanation of a lot of terminology. Check out Electricity 101.


Serious vulnerabilities in smart electricity meters continue to expose both consumers and electric utilities to cyberattacks. However, some have questioned claims that hackers can cause these devices to explode.


Rosalyn Bandy
Energy Smart Community Liaison

Last updated June 21, 2017