Regulators and Utilities: The Ball’s in Your Court
Chris King is president, eMeter Strategic Consulting, co-chair of the Demand Response and Advanced Metering Coalition, chair of the Demand Response Committee of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and a frequent witness in state and federal regulatory proceedings. Contact him at email@example.com.
Are the smart-metering provisions of EPACT 2005 a good thing? The answer, like most things in life, is, “It depends.” Looked at holistically, the opportunity is great. Viewed incrementally, it’s empty words on paper. It’s up to regulators and utilities to take the initiative.
EPACT 2005 establishes a new federal policy that demand response is a preferred resource. It requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy to report on, promote, and remove barriers to demand response and smart-meter installation. It provides research and development funding. It instructs state PUCs to determine whether universal smart-meter deployment is in the public interest. And it sets a new national standard for all utilities, including municipals and co-ops, to offer time-based rates and smart meters to all their customers.
Most utilities have wanted for years to put their meters on line via fixed network AMR systems. These “smart meters” would reduce operating costs, enhance customer service, and improve outage response. These operating savings cover the majority of smart meter costs, but not always the full cost.