Smart Meter Chaos: Maryland PSC Gets Real (consumerism, anyone?)
“The Proposal would not, in and of itself, enhance the electricity transmission grid or the Company’s distribution ‘backbone,’ and therefore it doesn’t justify the proposed customer surcharge by BG&E.”
The smartest guys in the electricity room believe that a path to energy efficiency and environmental goodness is to hook up so-called smart meters for us little users. The smart machines would signal (jolt?) us to use less power in peak times when the price is high and to use power more when the price is low.
But the very concept has problems aplenty. First, time-of-use pricing for residentials (versus commercial and industrial customers) is a nice ‘green’ theory, not fact. Some states like California do not want or allow such residential pricing because of equity concerns.
Second, so-called smart meters are all about government (taxpayer) and class ratepayer subsidies, not stand-alone economics between willing buyers and sellers.
Third, there is the hassle factor (called transaction costs) of setting up appliances with time-of-day usage. Relatedly, (in)flexibility costs are incurred.
And last but not least, smart meters are intrusive. Big Environmental Brother lurks behind each smart meter to tell you what to do and when to do it. Civil libertarians take note of this government-dependent machine.
Smart meters as ENERGY POLICY appear to be penny-wise and pound foolish. But members of an eco-energy elite want to individually pay by the pound to impress the neighbors and save the world, let them be ‘early adopters’. And perhaps these special users should also pay the costs of utility manpower in setting up time-of-day pricing to leave nonusers whole. Such is life under public utility regulation.
Make no mistake: smart meters are not a ‘let-the-market decide’ proposition. If they were, utility customers could decide individually and on a stand-alone basis whether or not to buy and install the meters. This should be an individual demander-to-provider proposition without other ratepayers or taxpayers involvement.
One final point: the federal budget is in horrendous deficit. Smart-meter money earmarked for Maryland should not be redistributed by the Department of Energy to other states as planned. The monies should be axed from the budget, reducing the deficit on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
The Smartest Grid In The Room: California Scheming Goes Awry
[...] There is growing agreement among federal and state policymakers, business leaders, and other key stakeholders, that a Smart Grid is not only needed but well within reach.
But it is not. Think of the Smart Grid as the 4G network for electricity. Smart meters, are a prime example of an unnecessary and expensive change that will provide little in the way of consumer benefit. They do, of course, provide utilities and energy marketers and government with a host of new tools, which is why they’re being sold in the policy arena. That plus the fact that makers just want the consumer to pay for something that isn’t (yet) cost effective explains the extracurricular (political) push. Add to all this the government’s insistence–encouraged by intermittent renewable developers lobbying efforts and billions in “stimulus” funding–and the momentum is hard to overcome.
The energy utilities want the meters to send price signals that change as generation costs change. By charging you more during high-usage “peak” times (e.g. hot days) they hope to persuade you to shift your usage to “off-peak” evenings and weekends, as many consumers now do with long-distance phone calls, when generation costs are lower. Of course, after a few days the inconvenience of getting off the couch every hour to read the new signal and turn on or off appliances, may lead people to the conclusion that the savings are not worth the effort. It might be smarter, and more effective to install additional generation capacity that can actually perform on those hot days.
With regard to National Grid's plan to spend 22 billion to upgrade the infrastructure and connect to the continent [link], a look at what is happening in the US where they plan to create special infrastructure for wind:
The Federal 'Green' Super Highway: 3,000 Miles to Nowhere? (Part II: Obama's power grab and high cost)
[Yesterday's post [the-federal-green-superhighway-3000-mile