Monthly Archives: October 2010

Hawaii election resources

I’m filling out my absentee ballot for the general election, and while I knew how I was going to vote on the federal and state legislative candidates, that’s only about 1/6th of the ballot. So I was tracking down some resources for finding information about candidates and issues and thought others might also benefit. Note that the official Office of Elections website is pretty useless for this type of info.

For those looking for information on federal races, Project Vote Smart is pretty cool: you answer questions about issues, and it tells you how similar the candidates running in your area are to your views.

Board of Education

The League of Women Voters has a rather comprehensive list of candidates running in the general election, including the Board of Education. Some candidates have provided statements and campaign websites, some have not.

Olelo (excuse my lack of diacriticals) has a nifty Candidates in Focus site where you can watch a video statement from many of the candidates.

The Star-Advertiser has made BoE endorsements, though read the comment from one candidate that says he was never even contacted by the paper.

Constitutional Ammendments

On the amendment to switch the BoE from elected to appointed, the League of Women Voters has a decent Pro-Con PDF that lays out the issue. I found the historical documents from 1970 (last time such an amendment was proposed) that oppose appointment not very helpful, since they didn’t clearly articulate the reasoning behind the position.

The LWV has another pro-con PDF on the tax rebate requirement amendment.

C&C Charter Amendments

Again, the LWV comes through. Council member Dela Cruz has a presentation [PDF] that explains in more detail what the charter changes mean (without any pros or cons). The LWV has a pro-con PDF that covers all 6 amendments.

I hope others find this information useful.

Notes from SmartGridComm 2010

Last week I attended the first Smart Grid Communications conference. I was presenting our paper on WattDepot. The presentation went well and there were several questions afterward. One point that I got several questions about was our requirement to support rapid data collection (sub-minute), since that is much faster than most commercial meters support. In retrospect, I should have emphasized our application domain (the Kukui Cup) more in the presentation, which might have helped to explain that requirement.

The following are some of my notes from the conference:

  • There were 102 papers accepted at the conference (40% acceptance rate), and 441 registrations. The mix was roughly 44% academic, 31% industry, 20% R&D, and 5% government.
  • The conference was held at NIST, and throughout the building were NIST clocks that presumably were very accurate. 🙂
  • There is a Smart Grid Consumer Collective, which sounds like an organization we should keep an eye on.
  • There are apparently standard power network topologies that can be used for analysis and research, such as the IEEE 300 bus power flow test case.
  • Some power industry slang I was not aware of: “big wire” relating to electricity distribution, “little wire” relating to communication networks. As in “the Smart Grid is all about the little wire people working with the big wire people.”
  • Georgios Kalogridis presented work on “Privacy for Smart Meters: Towards Undetectable Appliance Load Signatures”. The basic idea being that if the utility has fine-grained data about energy usage, they can determine a lot about what the consumers are doing. Kalogridis et. al. propose a system where a rechargeable battery is located in the home, and can be used to mask the signatures of energy use by charging and discharging at appropriate times. They cite this interesting paper by Elias Quinn that lays out all the potential privacy issues related to fine-grained energy usage data.
  • Came across a reference to Stanford’s PowerNet project, which aims to measure the “energy consumption of enterprise-style computing infrastructures”. Looks cool, paper here.
  • Hironori Nakanishi from the Japanese government reported on the Japanese perspective on the smart grid. Apparently Japanese utilities were not that eager to pursue smart grid upgrades because on average a Japanese consumer has 16 min/year of power outage, compared to the US average of 162 min/year. However, the Japanese government set the target of 25% CO2 reduction by 2020, which will require 28 GW of new solar power.
  • I also had not heard about the Hawaii-Okinawa partnership on clean energy.
  • One of the reasons that demand-side management is being pursued is for “peak shaving” by shifting some appliance loads to off-peak periods. Unfortunately, if all the smart appliances decide to shift their loads to the start of the off-peak pricing period, then you get a rebound peak. This seems like a challenging problem, barring real-time pricing that takes the rebound peak into account.
  • Jay Taneja presented work from UCB on shifting appliance loads to make maximal use of fluctuating renewable energy.The idea is that certain thermostatically-controlled loads like a refrigerator store electrical energy as thermal energy, so they can be scheduled based on the availability of renewable energy (in their study, wind energy). So if there is excess wind energy available, the fridge compressor could run more frequently, and vice versa. Bringing data about grid renewable energy production is something we have been thinking about from the consumer human interface perspective (the carbon “traffic light” concept), but they are working on making actual appliances sensitive to renewable production. Very cool.
  • In total, I gave out 11 business cards, and 2 REIS brochures.

Next year the conference is in Brussels. Paper deadline is April 4, 2011.