The consumer-centric smart grid and its challenge for regulators.
Charles J. Cicchetti is the former chair of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and senior advisor to Navigant Consulting and Pacific Economics Group. Philip Mause is an attorney and economist and senior advisor to Pacific Economics Group.
By now it should be obvious that the thorniest question mark facing the smart grid is not about standards and technology, but rather, who owns the data.
Is it the utility—and by association the regulators—or is it the customer, along with the manufacturers, vendors, and software designers that create products and services to serve that customer?
And more important, do consumers already have an intuitive sense of the issues at stake, and might this intuition help explain some consumers’ negative reactions to early utility forays at smart grid deployment?
One vision—a utility-centric smart grid—implies perhaps more of the already-familiar notion of utility-sponsored programs for energy efficiency and conservation, with all the attendant pitfalls and rate-making issues about cross-subsidies and cost-benefit allocations.