The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) recently denied Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) authorization to deploy smart meters and other smart grid technologies, arguing the potential financial and technological risks to consumers - who would have foot the bill for BGE's smart meters - outweighed the benefits. This was after the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded BGE their largest federal grant of $136 million for the initiative. Is this the beginning of the end of a great idea? The Smart Grid is the rare energy initiative that has the support of the Department of Energy, environmentalists, and utilities across the country. When fully implemented, the Smart Grid could enable energy efficiency, integrate renewable sources of electricity, foster electric cars, and allow consumers to reduce their energy consumption and save money. In order to accomplish all of these lofty goals, the Smart Grid will need the cooperation, and even love, of consumers. And an early negative reaction from consumers could jeopardize the entire project. Yet with the early rollouts of smart meters, consumers complain that their needs for information and communication have not been met, privacy concerns have not been addressed, and their bills are rising. Some consumers have gone so far as to place locks on their old meters. In this provocative discussion between representatives of utilities, consumers, regulators, and an expert of consumer behavior and energy consumption, we will dig deep into the implications of two recent snafus in the installation of smart meters: The Baltimore case and the case of Pacific Gas and Electric in California. We'll discuss the impact of smart grid technology on the consumers, and policy recommendations to protect and empower consumers while fostering the revolutionary potential of the smart grid during this national transition. http://www.newamerica.net/events/2010/smart_grid_sos
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