Two utilities win customer support for dynamic pricing and demand response.
Scott M. Gawlicki is a freelance writer from West Hartford, Conn. specializing in energy issues. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If the recent backlash against California’s proposed new building codes proves anything, it’s that ratepayers won’t buy into the smart-metering concept by themselves. The industry will have to sell it.
That means hammering home the benefits, including an assortment of cost savings, environmental benefits, greater flexibility to make energy choices, and improved grid reliability—i.e., fewer brownouts and blackouts, and lower transmission system maintenance and operating costs.
Utilities that hope to get around all that by relying on state-imposed regulatory mandates similar to the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) ill-fated proposal almost are certain to fail. In fact, experts say, suppliers would do well to completely avoid the M-word: “mandate.”
“Mandatory direct load control just won’t work,” says Lynne Kiesling, a professor and economist at Northwestern University and a founding member of GridWise Architecture Council. “It’s a sure-fire way to make consumers look at smart grid technologies with suspicion.”
How then should electric utilities, municipals and cooperatives go about introducing smart grid technologies? Two major utilities—Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) and Southern California Edison—are in the early stages of doing just that