Fortnightly Magazine - April 2006

Special Section On Metering: Thinking Smart

Legislation and technology developments give a jump-start to smart metering

What a difference a year makes. In 2004, automated metering infrastructure (AMI) was in something of a slump, but the Energy Policy Act of 2005, an uptick in natural disasters, and encouraging results from pilot projects have strengthened the business case for investing in AMI.

What a difference a year makes.

In 2004, the automated metering industry was in something of a slump. After the 2003 Northeast blackout, and facing rising gas prices and diminished investor confidence during a time of war, many utilities put automated meter reading (AMR) on the back burner.

Special Section On Metering: Needed in New England: Stronger Market Connections, Savvier Electricity Usage

The region’s retail and wholesale electricity markets should be linked via dynamic pricing.

The time has come to start the transition from the current economic demand-response programs to demand response that arises naturally through market-based retail pricing.

Over the past few decades, utility sponsored conservation and load-management programs have helped thousands of customers better manage their energy costs. While these programs have helped lower overall electricity use, they generally have not provided an economic incentive for customers to reduce their consumption at specific times in response to wholesale electricity prices.

A Hard Look at BPL: Utilities Speak Out

After closer study of the technology’s ongoing implementation and obstacles, the crystal ball remains cloudy.

What will it take for broadband over power line (BPL) technology to take hold? Is BPL on track to become, as the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) once contemplated, the “third broadband pipe into residential consumers’ homes, providing significant competition for cable and DSL service,” and an integral part of the 21st century “smart grid”?

Deregulation for Real

High power bills, with the lifting of rate freezes, give pause to politicians.

The Baltimore Sun recently carried a very poignant letter from one of its local readers— a letter that utility executives might well take to heart. Appearing under the title, “Energy Advice Cruel to Poorer Readers,” the letter took offense at an article that trivialized the effect of the huge increase in local electric bills (35 to 72 percent) expected this July with the lifting of a long-standing retail rate freeze.

People

New Opportunities: Southern Nuclear Operating Co. announced that its board of directors elected Joseph (Buzz) Miller as senior vice president of nuclear development. Miller is currently the vice president of government relations for Southern Co.

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