[Good info here, spent too long on the sidebar; belatedly promoted by NanuqFC]
My electric co-op meter reader had not heard of smart grid and the smart meters coming to Vermont. That he was amazed to hear about it may illustrate a point. As the electric system in Vermont quickly changes, are the utilities, the State and even the media doing enough to educate the public about what changes to expect? A recent article in the Free Press titled ‘Listen up, bonehead:’ Smart grid prepares to talk back may be an indication of the quality of an education effort underway already.
California already is getting some experience with the smart grid and some of it isn’t going too well. A class-action lawsuit against PG&E alleges that the utility falsely advertised its smart metering program and is benefiting from unfair competition (namely, that it has none, giving consumers no choice in the matter). An original plaintiff filed suit after his bill tripled from $200 to $600 a month right after smart meter installation.
As a result of the suit PG&E has slowed distribution of smart meters in its system.
One energy technology reporter and expert suggests those promoting all this have their tasks cut out for them. Heavily regulated utilities with long histories of viewing their customers only as “rate payers” or “loads” will have to change attitudes and view consumers differently.
……The PG&E Bakersfield hullabaloo is just the beginning of the backlash against smart meters and smart grid technology, which will only grow as smart meters continue to be installed throughout the country. The public concern reminds me of when digital voting booths were introduced, or when consumers first started to online bank. There’s some real concerns about keeping digital information private and secure in these systems, but ultimately it’s the responsibility of the organization that’s leading the switch to the digital two-way system to keep the line of communication open