Smart Meters or Smart Users?

We now live in a world driven by access to instant information. In fact, it is estimated that as of January 2018 roughly 95 percent of Americans own a cell phone, including 77 percent of Americans owning smartphones¹. If you own a smartphone, you likely receive numerous notifications ranging from missed calls, texts, email messages, social media posts, meeting reminders, news alerts, and scoring updates from your favorite team. However, have you ever received a notification of high energy prices? What if you could receive a notification that your real-time energy usage was high, with a recommendation to adjust your thermostat to save money on your electric bill? Additionally, what if you had the ability to act on that notification and use your smartphone to adjust your thermostat from anywhere in the world? If you are interested in real-time control over your energy consumption, you will likely have access to this technology in the near future.

smart meter

Smart electric meter

The number of smart electric meters installed in homes, businesses and farms is growing rapidly, reaching nearly half of all U.S. electricity consumers by the end of 2016. While there are a variety of smart meters available, smart electric meters are commonly classified as either Automated Meter Reading (AMR) or Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) equipment. AMR meters only transmit information in one direction from the smart meter to the utility and are primarily used to collect usage data for billing purposes. In comparison, AMI meters provide two-way interaction of real time electric usage data to both the utility and the consumer. AMI meters are used for more than just billing, by providing real time energy consumption data and allowing consumers and/or utilities the ability to control electric loads and shift non-essential loads to non-peak times.

smart meter

Smart electric meter

In Ohio, the integration of AMI smart electric meters has increased rapidly by more than 638 percent annually, growing from 16,631 meters in 2007 to 1,078,554 meters in 2016. In addition, installation of AMR smart electric meters in Ohio has increased by 37 percent annually, growing from 277,489 meters in 2007 to 1,310,925 meters in 2016². In 2016, there was a combined total of 2,389,479 smart meters (AMR & AMI) installed in Ohio, ranking 18th in the nation. While the integration of smart meters is growing rapidly, smart meters still represent only 43 percent of all electric meter infrastructure in Ohio.

smart meters installed in Ohio

The number of smart meters installed in Ohio from 2007-2016.

While the integration of smart meters is growing rapidly, many consumers are unaware of these advances in technology installed at their home! For example, in 2015, a year when residential smart meter adoption was about 44% nationwide, the 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration found only 22% of households reported having a smart meter, while 49% reported not having one, and 29% did not know. Meanwhile, only 8% of households reported being aware that they had access to hourly or daily data, and just 4% said they had accessed or viewed that data³.

As the integration of smart meters continues to increase, we will most likely see an increase in interactive and dynamic pricing models such as Time of Use (TOU) pricing and Real Time Pricing (RTP). TOU pricing programs include different predetermined electricity prices for different seasons, days of the week, or time of the day. In comparison, RTP programs fluctuate more frequently as retail electric rate is based on a formula that reflects real time wholesale prices of electricity.

As new smart meter technology and dynamic pricing models are adopted, consumer behavior will play a major role in determining the total monthly electric bill. For example, simple changes such as running your electric dryer or dishwasher at night could save you money. In recent years, we have relied on energy efficient products to lower utility bills, yet moving forward the greatest impact may come from our willingness to change our actions.

Additional Resources:

AEP Ohio – It’s Your Power App

AEP Ohio –  Your new smart meter: Installation Schedule

American Municipal Power, Inc. – AMP Makes Advanced Metering Services Available to Members

DP&L – You might hear people talking about it, but what is the Smart Grid all about?

Duke Energy Smart Meter – You’re In Control of Your Energy Use

First Energy Smart Meter FAQs

First Energy – What You Can Expect: Meter Installation

NREL – Electric Energy Management in the Smart Home: Perspectives on Enabling Technologies and Consumer Behavior

Ohio’s Electric Cooperative – Innovation Leaders

Smart Electric Power Alliance


¹ Pew Research Center. (2018, February 5). Mobile Fact Sheet. Retrieved from Pew Research Center Internet and Technology:

² U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (USDOE/EIA). (2017, November 6). Electric power sales, revenue, and energy efficiency Form EIA-861 detailed data files. Retrieved from Independent Statistics and Analysis:

³ U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (USDOE/EIA). (2017, December 6). Nearly half of all U.S. electricity customers have smart meters. Retrieved from Today In Energy:

Eric Romich

Eric Romich is an Assistant Professor & Extension Field Specialist for Energy Development with OSU Extension.

Go Fish (And Earn Two OSU Semester Hours!): Lake Erie Sport Fishing Course at Stone Lab

Western basin walleye

Western basin walleye

Spring is just around the corner, and for many of us that means it’s time to get our fishing rods, reels, and lures in order (and buy a few more, just in case.) Lake Erie is widely known as the Walleye Capital of the World, and the upcoming season looks like it’s going to add to that reputation. At the recent Ohio Charter Captains Conference hosted by Ohio Sea Grant, the Ohio Division of Wildlife told captains that 2018 would be excellent for the tasty fish, both for numbers caught and potential trophies.

Yellow perch

Yellow perch caught on a hand-made lure from the Lake Erie Sport Fishing Course

Smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass in Put-in-Bay

But walleyes are just one slice of the greater than $1 billion Lake Erie sport fishery. Yellow perch fishing also looks to be great in the western basin and steady in the central basin, while smallmouth bass continue to be the best fighting fish in the lake with plenty to be caught around rocky habitats all over Lake Erie. There’s also plenty of opportunities for white bass, largemouth bass, white and black crappie, bluegill, rock bass, several species of catfish… the list goes on and on.

Channel catfish

Triple header channel catfish

Evening assignment

Evening assignment

For most of those species there is no place better in late spring-early summer than the western basin of Lake Erie. To take advantage of that, Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab are offering the week long Lake Erie Sport Fishing Course June 10-16, 2018. If you know a college student that’s interested in fishing, send them our way. Based on Gibraltar Island, Stone Lab is nestled in one of the greatest fishing hotspots in the entire world. Students will learn about the Lake Erie ecosystem from a sport fishing perspective, along with how to use fishing technology, make their own lures, techniques to target specific species, and much more. These lessons will be put to the test during the daily six-hour fishing excursions aboard a Stone Lab vessel, and it’s suggested you bring a cooler to take home your catch from the week. (Fresh fish, anyone?)

Evening assignment

Evening assignment

Catching bait

Catching bait








But wait, there’s more! You’ll earn two physical education credits from OSU for your troubles! No need to be an OSU student, as these credits are transferable to most colleges and universities. Know a high schooler preparing for college? They may be eligible too! Check out the Stone Lab application website for more details.

If you’re interested in Lake Erie Sport Fishing but are not a student, check out our three day Sport Fishing Workshop May 18-20. It’s an abbreviated version of the course, but still covers Lake Erie fishing basics and includes daily fishing excursions. Be sure to check out what else is available while you’re on the Stone Lab course website, as there are many other courses and workshops available throughout the summer that might also appeal to you or your students. Come for the sport fishing, stay for the biology.

Class size is limited due to boat space, so sign up now! I hope to see you or your student at Stone Lab this summer. Tight lines.

Tory GabrielTory Gabriel is the Extension Program Leader & Fisheries Outreach Coordinator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

Ready to Rock? . . . It’s almost time for the NACDEP 2018 Conference!

NACDEP 2018 Logo

Logo photo courtesy of: and
Larry E. Highbaugh, Jr.

Before you know it, Community Development professionals from across the country will be gathering in Cleveland for the 2018 NACDEP Conference! The speakers are confirmed. Session proposals are being reviewed. Final changes have been made to the pre- and post-conference workshops, as well as Tuesday afternoon’s mobile learning workshops. Interested in attending?

Registration is now open. NACDEP Member early bird rate is $450 now through April 30, after which it increases to $485.

Make your reservations at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, our historic conference venue in downtown Cleveland

Before you register, review the selection of pre-conference workshops, post-conference workshops, and mobile learning workshops to decide which you would like to attend.

NACDEP logoDon’t forget – if you know of someone who might be interested in contributing as a sponsor, please direct them to the conference sponsorship page.

OSUE Community Development could not be more excited about how things are coming together for our 2018 Cleveland experience and want to thank all of the planning team members and the dozens of proposal reviewers for their hard work so far. See you in Cleveland, recently named as one of the ‘Best of the World’ by the National Geographic Traveler Magazine! Read more about that here.

Still not sure if you want to come to Cleveland? Check out this video.

 If you want to learn more about NACDEP 2018 contact David Civittolo (

David CivittoloDavid Civittolo is an Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics.

Now it’s The Road (Not) Less Traveled

Dodging potholes, bumping across a road that is as grooved as a washboard, and watching the cloud of dust in your rear view mirror is the road traveled by many rural Ohio residents. Fast forward 5 days to that same road as a solid, smooth chip and seal surface. Beware of the caution signs on this thoroughfare to success, as there are months of preparation before the actual surfacing project. Hop in and ride with me as we journey through this process.

One of the main reasons road surfaces become so challenging to drive is not the surface itself, but the lack of a solid base beneath the surface. We stop to find our county engineer and township trustees converging to develop a plan. A road rehabilitation method known as full depth reclamation offers an option to improve road conditions. To be successful, this process requires significant funding to complete. With three townships and the county working cooperatively, an application is submitted to the Ohio Public Works Commission for grant and loan assistance.

Road surface prep

Full-depth reclamation – pulverizing the road base.

Chip and seal

Chip and seal surface application

Using this funding source and local matching funds the project begins with preparations that include ditching and installation of new, and replacement of damaged, culverts. This is done because proper drainage is essential to road maintenance. While this work could be completed by local road crews, the full-depth reclamation work requires a contractor who specializes in the process. First, test holes are made to determine the type of soil under the road. This informs the correct cement-to-road material ratio. A road reclaim machine pulverizes the road base and some sub-base and combines them. The road is then graded back to normal terrain. More soil tests are done and a dry cement is then distributed over and incorporated into the pulverized material including a water additive. The stabilized material is compacted with rollers providing a solid base. After all of these steps are complete, then the asphalt and limestone aggregate chip and seal surface is applied.

Providing a road map for this road improvement project was Ohio State University Extension, Washington County Community Development. Extension engaged the community via coordination of meetings, assisting with application paperwork, and supporting township officials with critically important project information. Projects of all types can experience unexpected bumps and curves. Remember to contact your local Extension office to help you travel your road to success!

Darlene LukshinDarlene Lukshin is a Community Development program specialist in Washington County.

History & Health: What’s the Connection?

For many of us, we have choices regarding our health: access to fresh food & clean water, options for household location, and access to green space or nature, for example. But for some communities, these choices of individual and family health are far more limited and create a culture of survival rather than enjoyment or experimentation of a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps not surprisingly, policy decisions can play a large role in these choices. And in some cases, policy from days gone by oftentimes continues to affect communities in present day. To take a closer look at this connection between history and health, let’s compare Cuyahoga County’s historical redlining map to a racial density map derived from the 2010 US Census.

“Redlining” is the unethical practice (in this case regarding real estate) of discriminating against residents and refusing financial service, based on where the resident lives. Commonly, residents within a certain area will be subjected to the systematic denial of financial services (mortgages, insurance, or loans) based on address rather than individual qualifications or credit history. The map of Redlining in Cuyahoga County depicts the community sectioned into four security ratings; green areas were deemed the most “safe,” and red deemed the most “dangerous.” The practice of redlining was made illegal through the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Redlining in Cuyahoga CountyWhile the practice of redlining ended before the 1970’s, evidence of redlining was still present in Cleveland’s communities in 2010. Comparing the map above to the map below, a higher density of minority groups is evident in areas which were deemed more “unsafe” in 1940. The source for this “one dot, one person” visual is based off individual responses of race alone from the 2010 Decennial Census.

Racial Density in Cuyahoga County, 2010

Racial Density in Cuyahoga County, 2010. Source: The Racial Dot Map, University of Virginia

While some communities have historically been disadvantaged, this is not to say that community organizations and partnerships are not working to create better opportunities and health equity. In Cuyahoga County, the Health Improvement Partnership (HIP-Cuyahoga) works to give everyone an opportunity to make healthier choices. To further learn about HIP-Cuyahoga’s effort, watch this video.

By acknowledging the history of the communities in which we work, we are able to better understand their unique and specific needs and challenges. Health equity requires a concentrated effort to increase opportunities for everyone to be healthier. This effort can be through the work that you do in your community, how and where you direct your purchasing power, understanding local policy changes and impacts, and reflecting on the lessons we have learned through history. Remember, you can be the change you wish to see in the world!


Vargo, LaurenLauren Vargo is a program coordinator in Cuyahoga County.