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Maryland Rejects Smart Grid Proposal

June
23
2010

Bureaucrats in Annapolis have slammed the brakes on a proposal that would have seen the widespread implementation of smart-grid technology in the Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) service area. The proposal had a price tag of as much as $835 million.

BGE wanted to install more than 1.3 million smart electricity meters and 730,000 smart gas meters for its customer base. It had planned on using a $136 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help shore up the start-up costs for the ambitious project.

Through the use of these smart meters, BGE wanted to have those meters communicate with its back office, in an effort to vary electricity rates during the months of June through September based on the time of day and day of the week during which the electricity is used.

BGE said that its customers would have saved money by reducing the amount of energy they used during peak periods.

But regulators in Annapolis said BGE's specific proposal was "untenable," even though they said they believe in the overall concept of smart-grid technology.

You can download their decision, all 54 mind-numbing pages of it. While there is some good stuff in there, here's the main highlight of the decision:

The Proposal asks BGE's ratepayers to take significant financial and technological risks and adapt to categorical changes in rate design, all in exchange for savings that are largely indirect, highly contingent and a long way off. We are not persuaded that this bargain is cost-effective or serves the public interest, at least not in its current form.

While the Commission said it would entertain future submissions from BGE, its harsh wording in the decision indicates that BGE will have to think long and hard before coming back to Annapolis with a new plan.

There's much more about this at BrighterEnergy.org. Their piece makes for interesting reading. And it demonstrates that smart-grid technology may be farther off than those in the utilities industry want to admit.

By Bob Woods, VP of Business Development; Electric Advisors, Inc.

Tagsbg&e, electricity, maryland, smart grid

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