Special report on public support for smart metering and demand response.
Michael T. Burr is Fortnightly’s editor-in-chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Contact him at email@example.com. Scott M. Gawlicki is a freelance writer from West Hartford, Conn. specializing in energy issues. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The smart-grid concept is beginning to penetrate the public consciousness.
The subject has made its way into consumer magazines, daily newspapers and CNBC’s “Street Signs” TV show. Even some presidential candidates have dared to discuss this geeky technical concept in their stump speeches and campaign platforms. Sen. Barack Obama, for example, says he will “invest in a digital smart grid … to enable a tremendous increase in renewable generation and accommodate modern energy requirements, such as reliability, smart metering, and distributed storage.”
Such growing awareness is a promising sign for proponents of smart-grid technology and related policies and business opportunities. But for the smart grid to deliver on its promise, utilities must gain customer support for fundamental changes in utility services—most notably dynamic pricing and demand-response capabilities.
Getting that support might prove tricky.