Interestingly, just got told that our electricity provider (this system is weird... | by Patrick McKenzie

Patrick McKenzie


3 months ago

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Interestingly, just got told that our electricity provider (this system is weird in Tokyo, as me sometime) is preparing for potential grid stress due to cost of fuel / European issues / etc and a) recalculating surcharges plus b) encourages us to enroll in demand response.

The Japanese government offered them 2,000 yen (about $20… or $15 these days) to give us to get set up, which took all of 2 minutes. The mechanism is just an app which shows your usage and can give you notifications when they would appreciate you decreasing discretionary usage.

We use SoftBank for energy because we also use them for cell and Internet service and I thought “Why not just consolidate everything”, so the mobile app is pretty competent. (Note that, since I WFH, we will almost always be above “typical” household usage.)

Let me provide a quick voiceover on why the system is weird: there is one grid, operated by TEPCO. You might remember them as having been in the news quite a bit a decade and change ago. By default you buy power from them, but there is a system by which you can have a…

… billing relationship with a wholesaler who has bought the power from TEPCO and is just selling it to you at a tiny margin and answering your call if you have a billing question. TEPCO still owns all the plants/wires/etc and is responsible for lights staying on.

And this in addition to owning banks or bank-like entities all the Japanese consumer Internet giants have a power arm because you’d almost be silly not to. (There are also a lot of “power companies” which are, well, very small businesses that exist to take advantage of this.)

*thus in addition

Got the first “energy saving challenge”, which I’ll explain for the benefit of folks who don’t find Japanese easy:

Tomorrow from 5 PM to 7 PM they model the grid as being under stress. They model typical usage for a family like ours as 2.25 kWh during the interval. For each 1 kWh of improvement versus that target, they’ll award us 5 points (yen) and warm fuzzies.

I like the bolded suggestion, which roughly translates to “Please don’t go to unreasonable lengths to save electricity.”

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