President Obama is a proponent of a “smart grid” to better distribute electricity between producers (including all those windmills he wants to build) and consumers. I agree that we need to update our infrastructure with more power plants and transmission lines. However, the following excerpt from a press release of a Maryland utility seems ominous.
BALTIMORE, Jul 13, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) today announced it has filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) a comprehensive and advanced Smart Grid initiative, including the planned installation of 2 million residential and commercial smart meters, that could potentially save BGE electric and gas customers in excess of $2.6 billion over the life of the project. In an extensive pilot program that began in 2008, smart meters and a new pricing plan proved that customers can reduce peak electricity usage by about a third and enjoy significant savings. BGE is seeking prompt action by the Maryland PSC and federal approval of stimulus dollars to position the utility to move to the next phase of this potential smart grid investment.
The first phase of BGE’s Smart Grid proposal would be the installation of 2 million advanced, or “smart,” electric and gas meters, operating through a robust utility-to-customer, two-way communications network, which forms the foundation for an automated, digital intelligent grid.
BGE claims benefits to consumers of about $5 per month.
I have a time-of-use electric meter on my house. I can choose when to run appliances, such as the washer or drier, to make sure it is in off-peak times, and thus save money. The operative phrase here is “I can choose.”
However, the “smart meters” used by BGE operate “through a robust…two-way communications network…” That means the utility company can decide when and how much gas and electricity you can use at any given time. The ultimate purpose of the meters is to allow local utilities to ration electricity as demand rises faster than supply, a situation caused in part by enviros blocking construction of new power plants and transmission lines.
To find out more about U.S. electricity generation, see: Obama clueless on energy, part 1.