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Selling the Smart Grid - The Pitch

Two utilities win customer support for dynamic pricing and demand response.

Fortnightly Magazine - April 2008

welcome kit. Those who choose to participate in the program will receive certain incentives—yet to be defined—and recommendations on how to shift load and activate the energy-saving thermostats, and instructions on how to navigate the program website to determine energy-saving processes best suited to their lifestyles. SCE’s marketing effort kicked into high gear in 2007 and is expected to continue though 2009 and beyond. In general, DeMartini says, the media response so far has been positive, with feature stories in The New York Times, USA Today, and broadcasts on Fox News and National Public Radio.

Utilities planning to roll out similar programs can benefit from the experiences of utilities like SCE and PSE&G, while also learning from the CEC’s cautionary example.

“Objections to the CEC proposal were about the mandate, not the energy efficiency the PCTs would provide,” says Ahmad Faruqui, an economist and consultant with the Brattle Group in San Francisco. “Look at the way CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) were introduced. Now there are states mandating that only those types of light bulbs be available in a few years. Why isn’t that viewed as Big Brother?”

One possible reason is that lawmakers waited until the efficiency benefits of CFLs already were widely known before advancing them as a standard. By contrast, California’s recent backlash against PCTs should be viewed a wake-up call.

“There’s such a fine line between an optional and mandated measure,” he says. “This is not a ‘one size fits all’ scenario. Customers have diverse needs and you have to respect that.”