“Regulators who don’t approve smart stuff are by elimination reducing themselves to certificators of dumb stuff. When nuclear optimism peaked, backers said that its power would be “too cheap to meter.” The bill for the smart grid is turning out to be too confusing to meter, but like in the nuclear heyday, the momentum is irresistible.”
I have some kind words for the California Public Utilities Commission’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA), its in-house department charged with representing small consumers in rate proceedings.
DRA has long been agnostic about the benefits of smart meters. But with the release of “Case Study of Smart Meter System Deployment: Recommendations for Ensuring Ratepayer Benefits,” the issue of high costs relative to benefits is on the table.
Better late than never.
DRA’s lightly redacted public version analyzes the gap between anticipation and reality in Southern California Edison’s “Advanced Metering Infrastructure” (AMI or SmartConnect) rollout program.…
Possibly the most fascinating aspect of the Smart Grid is the absense of an economic rationale. But industry incentives being what they are (concentrated benefits, diffused costs), many have bet on much of it being built. Boondoggles must pass political tests, not economic ones.
But guess what? People are finally starting to wonder if this smart grid is worth the trouble. Intervenors, at last, are turning up at state proceedings. For a good sample of the issues and alternatives, look at Synapse Energy Economics’ July 8 filing at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on behalf of the state Department of Public Advocate. Synapse is possibly the best firm in the business to represent efficiency or environmental interests, but they stand with the skeptics on smart grids.
The utilities have yet to find consultants who can make an easy case for the grids.…