Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Toll Lanes For The Power Grid

They are coming, in the form of something called "smart" meters. Local utilities are experimenting with new gadgets that allow companies to charge more during times of peak power use and less when consumption is down, according to this story in WaPo.

Baltimore Gas & Electric plans to start testing advanced meters in 5,000 Maryland homes in April, including some in Howard, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties.

The idea is that you'll save money if you wait to do the laundry at night instead of in the afternoon when the AC is cranking because of all the global warming outside.

Recent studies have argued that the grid is overtaxed and brownouts may be in our future if new sources of power do not come on line or consumption ebbs. Some policymakers fear the day, not so far in the future, when everyone comes home on a hot afternoon and immediately wants to plug in their electric car so its ready to roll the following day.

Talk about a meltdown.

1 comment:

Jessie Newburn said...

Yay! While certainly not an economist, I like this kind of thinking. It's a user tax in a sense, charging people more when it costs "the system" more to deliver services and goods to them. I think that a big weakness in the current American mindset is kind of a smorgasborg / endless consumption attitude where there are no immediate penalties for gluttonous consumption ...

This new policy puts people at choice: Yo, you can save money or you can pay a premium. It's up to you. :)