Tomorrow's Network: A Two-Way Street
William M. Smith is EPRI's manager of market-driven load management.
The technology is here. What's missing is the will to use it.
Electric restructuring may seem to have unleashed a Pandora's Box of ills. In reality, however, it has opened the door to creative endeavors. The present difficulties--spiking spot prices, congestion in transmission and distribution, unavailable generation, and arbitrage winners and losers--mark nothing but a rite of passage. Simple survival is the watchword. The industry must move through and past these difficulties to get to the promised land of deregulation: .
Following in the footsteps of other now-deregulated industries, such as telecommunications, electricity will evolve into a new paradigm of free-flowing transactions between suppliers and purchasers. In this "Electrinet" (an electric power analogue to the Internet), competition will replace the utility's duty to serve with a shared between consumer and marketer. This evolution likely will take the 15 years or so that true change has taken in sister industries.
During the early stages of this deregulation and transition, the "killer app" will emerge in the form of market-driven load management, in which electricity customers participate actively in the electricity supply-demand balance by shaping their electric demand patterns. And it will take place using today's electric infrastructure--but only for something gotten in return. And that something is real profit and real loss.
Yesterday's Model: Notify and Control