Senators to utilities: Thou shalt give consumers info
By: SGN Staff
Quick Take: In no other industry can things change so quickly. With the stroke of a pen, utilities can be saddled with yet-another-mandate. This one requires utilities to give electricity users easier access to their consumption information, with the hope that they'll use it to more efficiently manage how much energy they use.
Though the bill's goals may be laudable, we hope the Senators will pay as much attention to "How will we pay for this?" as they do to "Here's what utilities have to do next." - Jesse Berst
Electric customers would have easier access to their electricity use information that could help them better manage consumption if new legislation just introduced in the U.S. Senate becomes law.
Dan Delurey, president of the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (DRSG), praised the bill as a win for consumers who want to become more energy efficient, but haven't had access to the information they need to do it.
Titled the Electric Consumer Right to Know Act (aka e-Know), the bill also would give customers the option of getting that information in real time, and would give them the right to authorize access to their usage data to companies that provide home energy efficiency products, as well as give them access to information directly from home energy management systems and products that run independently of the utility electric meter.
"Many consumers want to use energy more efficiently, but can't," Delurey said, "because they don't know how much they are actually using. When the bill arrives at the end of the month it's too late to turn off the lights or ease up the air conditioning at the beginning of the month."
Energy management specialist Schneider Electric, a member of the DRSG coalition, also praised the legislation. "Long before we had computers, utilities provided the first true 'cloud' services: energy delivery on demand. With smart grid, we begin to combine that cloud with the information cloud," said James Anderson, Schneider VP for Smart Grid and Demand Management. "By connecting consumers to the information generated by the smart grid consumers will be able to intelligently manage energy usage which will both cut energy bills and reduce carbon emissions."
Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com. He consults to smart grid companies seeking market entry advice and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he also serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Energy & Environment directorate.
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