Frequently Asked Question List

If you have a question about Power Stoplight or Power Stoplight Mobile, send us an email & we’ll post the reply here!

Q: How can I find out if my Region and power company support Dynamic Pricing programs?

A: Our Region list web page has useful links for some of the Dynamic Pricing programs supported by Power Stoplight as well as details on the type of program and information that Power Stoplight conveys for each Region. You could also contact your power company for information on similar programs  that they may offer or have under development. Enrollment in many cases is completely free of cost to you, even prior to the potential benefits in the future.

Q: My Region isn’t in the data feed list – is my use of Power Stoplight still worthwhile?

A: Quite Possibly!  The nearest Region to your location may still have very similar weather & electricity grid characteristics and could be a good guide for your use of electricity. Environmentally, the nearest Region’s program should be optimized for reduction of peak carbon emissions based on typical generation and load levels, so your use of Power Stoplight should be helpful in that respect as well.

Additionally, your region may not have a Dynamic Pricing program in place at this point, but chances are that sometime in the future they will! Power companies across the world are heading in this direction – Power Stoplight offers you the chance to participate directly or indirectly in them right now!

Q: Can you add my Region’s Dynamic Pricing program to Power Stoplight?

A: Yes!  Please send us an email detailing your location, power company, type of pricing program, and the price information options presently available for your service so that we can better understand your program and further develop Power Stoplight to fit your needs.

Q: How accurate is the data in Power Stoplight?

A: Smart Data in Power Stoplight for some markets directly tracks spot price data for Real Time Pricing, though it does not include service-specific adjustment parameters such as taxes, delivery service fees, uncollectible factors, capacity charges, or smart meter lease charges. Those numbers are typically small percent multiplication and/or addition factors to the variable price figures.

The image to the left shows Power Stoplight Mobile for Android‘s simultaneous map/data view with Smart Grid pricing information on the Y-axis plotted against the hour of the day in military time on the X-axis. New price information is shown in green, Smart Price predictions are displayed in blue, Final prices are in red, and Day Ahead price information is shown in black.

Information shown in the image to the left is from a day in which data showed moderate volatility, Final prices lower than than Day Ahead pricing, and reasonable accuracy of Smart Price predictions.

For Regions with Time Of Use Pricing data, the base prices that are applicable for service at given times are shown as well as a schedule for that day’s price schedule, allowing you to better schedule your use of major appliances.

For Regions with Time Of Use Rating data, rating factors from 1 to 10 (with 10 matching the highest price) are shown for the different tiers on service that apply, since pricing schedules may not be the same for all customers above or below certain monthly usage levels or categories.

Data presented in Power Stoplight can not be guaranteed for accuracy, reliability, or availability.  Smart Price Data is in most cases quite accurate with respect to final prices that result.  But in fact, all spot prices and day-ahead prices are not real-time, but historical information.  Power Stoplight presents it for consumer informational purposes only, not for buying or selling 1.21GigaWatts of power!  As always, use energy wisely!

Q: If too many people follow the data in Power Stoplight Mobile to control their usage, won’t that community action throw off electricity prices in and of itself?

A: Good question, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves! The maximum percentage of people potentially following its data on Dynamic Pricing and who are Smartphone users in any given market is <1 percent.  The effect on prices of such a small number of users is negligible.

Q: Does the above explanation mean my effort to reduce peak carbon emissions still counts?

A: The peak carbon pollution explanation that goes along with the above, however, DOES mean that your energy saving at peak times contributes to less total pollution that goes into the atmosphere. This is due to your usage requiring more generation at a given peak time.

In other words, at times when electricity grids are heavily loaded, your >5kW central air conditioning turning on requires that much more generation capacity on the grid. To avoid blackouts, brownouts, overheating, or other problems, it has to be added somewhere!

Q: Where is the Lighthouse that I see in the iPhone & Android Apps and on the webpage??

Hint: Locally, it’s called le phare!

Q: What’s a σ???

A: The Greek letter σ, sigma, is used in statistical analysis to indicate the standard deviation of a set of data.  Power Stoplight Mobile’s Detail View for some Regions will display this parameter as well as the mean and volatility of the last 2 hours of price data, helping users decide for themselves regarding use and generation of power, but with a set of valuable information to aid in the process.

Q: How do power companies know when I use or generate different amounts of electricity?

A: Newer electricity meters can record your electricity usage at different intervals throughout the course of the day. “Smart Meters” on a “Smart Grid”, if your service is set up with one, can usually be read by the utility directly through their network. Other types of digital or analog meters, similar to the old fashioned rotary style meters with dials and wheels, may still require monthly in-person readings from your friendly neighborhood meter reader. In either case, Power Stoplight is a very useful tool for your own management of power with respect to changes over time.

Q: How does all of this fit in with what I’ve been hearing lately about competing electricity sellers in my area?

A: A number of companies are now buying & selling in electricity wholesale markets through which they may be able to offer electricity at different prices that comes over the same wires and from the same sources to consumers in both residential and commercial markets in the US. Some rate structures offered by these programs are based on the same dynamic price elements conveyed by Power Stoplight while some are unique to the services offered by these companies.

Q: Is there really a Power Stoplight device and can I get one?

A: Yes! Power Stoplight in physical and functional form does exist, but is not available yet for purchase. Stay tuned!

For now, you can fill out this form to receive a notification email when it’s ready:

Q: Should I sign up for my power company’s Dynamic Pricing program?

A: It depends! Take a look at the characteristics of the programs available and decide if they seem right for your home from both financial and environmental perspectives. You can still use Power Stoplight even if you’re not on one, or use it when deciding on enrollment or not, but most folks do find it very engaging and even fun to participate in such programs.

Q: Does Power Stoplight Mobile for iPhone work on iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod Touch devices?

A: Yes! It has been tested extensively on these devices and works like a charm!

Q: Is there an Power Stoplight data feed in XML or RSS format that my device or system can access?

A: Yes! Smart Power Devices Ltd now has its Power Stoplight XML feed available to partner companies and individuals looking to control their devices or systems automatically with its groundbreaking, price conveying & price-predicting Smart Data. If you are interested in accessing this data on your system and electricity service,  please send us an email with your name, email address, and phone number. We look forward to hearing from you!

Q: Can you provide a link to my company’s website from the apps’ Smart Charging or Generation buttons for my particular region? We’d like some app-driven publicity for our solar/wind turbine installation service in this city!

A: Yes! Smart Power Devices Ltd is very interested in hearing from and partnering with your organization. Additionally, we may be able to offer your the Lighthouse banner space in the apps for your business message! Please send us an email with your name, email address, and phone number. We look forward to hearing from you!

Q: How can electricity prices go negative? Yesterday in Power Stoplight I saw  some price values below zero – how can that be possible???

A: Good observation and great question! Though uncommon, for some customers’ electricity service, there really are times when prices go negative and they can be PAID for using electricity service. This is due again to the desired balance of supply and demand: if generation levels are too high and loads too low, consumers may be encouraged to increase their usage, resulting in billing credits for that timeframe’s usage.

Q: I can’t find Power Stoplight Mobile on my Android phone – what’s wrong?

A: Try following this direct link to the Android Market for Power Stoplight Mobile. The requirements for installation are that your device use Android OS 2.0 or higher and that the “Low maturity” setting or higher be active on your device since the app uses location information to compare your coordinates to those in its region list – standard operation for Android Market apps!

Q: Power Stoplight shows very simple data for my city – what’s the point of an App to tell me if my electricity is in a peak period or not?

A: While it is true that for some cities in the region list, Power Stoplight provides very basic and easily-memorizable information, for other cities such as Chicago, Decatur, and San Francisco, Power Stoplight’s servers gather and generate very complex data sets that are then conveyed to its users. The future of the Power Stoplight service for all regions in the list, however, is in its machine-to-machine capability – stay tuned for further news!

Q: Can you add my city/region/power company/dynamic pricing plan to Power Stoplight? If so, how much will this cost?

A: Yes and most likely, this implementation will be free of charge! Please provide as much information as possible on the relevant city, power company, pricing program and if possible as well, your name, email address and phone number.

Summary: Power Stoplight would not exist or operate without its users. We appreciate your feedback! Please send your ideas, questions, comments, website/app updates/corrections, requests and business inquiries to the Comment Page or directly via email to Smart Power Devices. To reduce spam and maintain the privacy of its users and contributors, Smart Power Devices Ltd will not post your data unless you wish to have this information published.


© 2013 Smart Power Devices Ltd