Community microgrids raise questions about the role of the utility franchise, versus the free market.
Demonstrating the Smart Grid
Pilot projects clarify the vision of an intelligent utility system.
opening or closing certain switches, or interrupting service to large customers who have agreed to such measures in advance. But in this case, the processes would be automated and include other options, such as cutting back on residential central air conditioning via programmable thermostats.
In the future, the smart-grid city could include additional demand-response measures that go beyond operational benefits to address environmental or other societal values. For example, pool pumps or other non-essential residential appliances could be identified in advance and shut down temporarily to reduce peak loads.
“The point is, you have to prove all these concepts before you can present the idea of a truly intuitive smart grid system to regulators,” Carlson says. “As an industry we haven’t really demonstrated the benefit of combining all these technologies. Until we do, there will be skepticism. That’s the real value of this project.”