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May 30, 2010

Nanny state 'smart electricity' will change your dinner hour

Topics: Political News and commentaries

Just in case you missed this back on the 21st, welcome to a the end of fixed-price electricity and the beginning of a nanny state electricity in the form of "smart electricity" that knows when you're cooking and cleaning, and could force you in to having dinner at 4pm.

From the WSJ (MAY 21, 2010 - emphasis added):

One of modern life's most durable features--fixed-price electricity--is slowly being pushed to the sidelines, a creeping change that will influence such things as what time millions of Americans cook dinner and what appliances they buy.

Driving the change is the rollout of so-called smart meters, which can transmit data on how much power is being used at any given time. That gives utilities the ability to charge more for electricity at peak times and less during lulls. Spreading out electricity consumption more evenly across the day leads to more efficient use of power plants and lower emissions.

Advanced meters "put consumers in charge of an expense that's often thousands of dollars a year and in ways that were never possible before," said John Geary, vice president of innovation for TXU Energy, a Texas power seller. "They won't be flying blind anymore."

Utilities, economists and even behavioral psychologists are still trying to figure out the best way to convince consumers to cut their power at the right time. They worry that folks will be in for a jolt if they suddenly are exposed to wildly fluctuating prices--possibly prompting a smart-meter backlash.

But if prices don't change, it would undercut the purpose of rolling out the costly smart meters in the first place.

"Regulators are conflicted about whether to protect people from volatile prices or let people experience them so they change their habits," said Stanford University economist Frank Wolak, an expert on energy markets.

Consumers have mixed feelings, too. Some say it feels coercive. Others say it is needed to cut down on the emission of greenhouse gases. (More ... )

My vote is on this being coercive, invasive, and downright creepy. As for those folks who say it's needed to cut down on greenhouse gases, let them simply cut down on their own electricity and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

Posted by Richard at May 30, 2010 8:42 PM

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