NY Times has an article about how consumers in Chicago can actually check a website that tells them what they’re paying for electricity. Zowie!
Just as cellphone customers delay personal calls until they become free at night and on weekends, and just as millions of people fly at less popular times because air fares are lower, people who know the price of electricity at any given moment can cut back when prices are high and use more when prices are low. Participants in the Community Energy Cooperative program, for example, can check a Web site that tells them, hour by hour, how much their electricity costs; they get e-mail alerts when the price is set to rise above 20 cents a kilowatt-hour.
If just a fraction of all Americans had this information and could adjust their power use accordingly, the savings would be huge. Consumers would save nearly $23 billion a year if they shifted just 7 percent of their usage during peak periods to less costly times, research at Carnegie Mellon University indicates. That is the equivalent of the entire nation getting a free month of power every year.
Is it just me, or is this absolutely the most rock-headed, simplistic, low-hanging-fruit way to address the strain on the New England grid? How many folks have any clue this is the case? Has it been in the op-eds written by the grid managers?
No? Says the Times:
… [C]ompanies that generate and distribute power have little or no incentive to supply customers with hourly meters, which can cut into their profits.
Now, this should not be seen as undercutting support for Cape Wind or other clean energy projects. A conversion to clean energy is desirable regardless of anticipated demand. But come on, shouldn’t consumers be sensibly informed on how to work the grid to their own advantage?
(Oh, yeah, this is an environmental justice issue, too.)