Monday, May 3, 2010

Post # 14 -- FERC Commissioner Moeller Cautions Against "Overpromising."

As previously discussed, in 2007 Congress directed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in coordination with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to develop standards and protocols necessary to insure interstate Smart Grid functionality (see Post # 2 and my paper, “Smart Grid: The Devil Is In the Details.”

Last week, FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller, recently nominated by President Obama for a second term, emphasized that regulators need to be realistic and restrained in their discussions of the Smart Grid.

Testifying on April 27, 2010, before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Moeller said that the Smart Grid has “revolutionary and transformative potential” to enhance efficiency in the Nation’s electric grid. At the same time, however, Moeller underscored that this potential “will not be immediate and will occur at varying paces throughout the nation.” In particular, Moeller cautioned that FERC itself must be careful not to overpromise the benefits of the smart grid to consumers lest there be a backlash that slows the pace of its implementation.”

I think that last point is crucial, and not just for FERC and other regulators, but for all Smart Grid proponents. Ultimately, the bill for Smart Grid will be picked up by consumers, taxpayers, and utility ratepayers. And before they will accept that burden, consumers, taxpayers, and utility ratepayers must be convinced that there is something in it for them. These days, too much Smart Grid discussion takes place among “true believers.” Getting the public on board will require down-to-earth advocacy that identifies clearly articulated and truly likely benefits, free from “pie-in-the-sky” promotion.

The full text of Commissioner Moeller’s recent testimony can be viewed here.

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