Nor do they necessarily understand the benefits of the new rate structures that smart meters enable. For example, dynamic pricing, including critical peak pricing and peak time rebates, will result in lower bills for many customers, particularly those whose usage is largely off-peak, or for those customers who are able to shift their usage is response to pricing information. A key part of the smart meter deployment, therefore, is educating customers on these various benefits and the role that smart meters play in allowing them to access those benefits.
California is aggressively pursuing modernization of the state’s electric grid from one based on industrial age technology to one based on the technology of the information age: a Smart Grid. At the federal level, DOE has been charged with orchestrating the wholesale modernization of our nation’s grid.
A Smart Grid will offer customers greater control over their utility bill through the availability of real-time information on rates and usage that will allow customers to decide when and how much energy to use. By providing customers with usage and price information (and eventually multiple tariff options), a customer will be able to understand how much and when a customer’s pool pump, the multiple TVs, the freezer in the garage, and the chargers for the cell phone will cost. This will empower the customer to take a more active role on when to turn on the pool pump, or to turn the TV off when not watching it, or determine if that freezer in the garage is necessary. The customer will be able to decide what he or she needs ahead of getting a bill that is beyond their monthly budget, or to determine if there is a different rate option that would better meet their needs. It is therefore incumbent upon the Commission to continue to move forward and provide customers the choice in terms of rates that are better aligned with actual costs, and allow customers to choose amongst entities that are best able to help customers better manage their consumption. The customer needs to become a participant in the Smart Grid in order for the Smart Grid to become fully functional and beneficial. Therefore, customer awareness and acceptance are key aspects of a successful Smart Grid. The legislature, as well as the Governor and our local governments, can play a major role in promoting the transition to a Smart Grid.