New rate structures prioritize conservation, but will customers buy it?
As the U.S. economy braces for hard times, American consumers and organizations of all types are seeking ways to stretch their resources. For some utilities, that means cutting back capital investment plans, and delaying things like advanced metering rollouts. For others, however, such investments show no signs of slowing down. They might even accelerate, given the tax benefits for smart-grid investments Congress included in the so-called bailout bill. Plus mechanisms like conservation programs, smart metering and smart pricing promise to deliver precisely the tools customers need to better manage their energy consumption—and hence their utility bills.
For example, the California Public Utilities Commission on September 19 approved Southern California Edison’s $1.63 billion SmartConnect program. And the Idaho Public Utilities Commission recently announced it would accept public comments through December 9 on Idaho Power’s $70 million proposal to install AMI throughout its southern Idaho service territory, with deployments beginning as early as January 2009. In the announcement, the commission stated: “The potential benefits of advanced metering to ratepayers and the company are too great to delay.”