Google wants to totally change how people pay for electricity by utilizing smart grid technology and internet protocols that transmits data in real time. Google’s problem is two-fold. They want access to our electricity usage data so they can put that data through their energy management technology and spit it back to you so you can more efficiently use your energy.
They also want the government to make you pay more for your electricity when you most desperately need it, during a hot summer day.
The idea of a smart grid sounds great because you have a more efficient electricity grid and can better manage that power but who of us wants to pay more for electricity when we typically use it most?
The search giant isn’t just speaking words. On Monday they awarded a $2.65 million grant to a grant making group called Energy Foundation. In an effort to push government regulators to change how residential customers are charged Google may be able to convince them to charge us more during peak demand periods in the day.
On a hot summer day in Texas rather than turning on your old inefficient air conditioner you may decide to turn on the ceiling fans and maybe even sit outside in the shade and catch a breeze instead.
Why would you decide to do this? A possible regulatory change could require all retail electric companies in Texas to charge you more during the hottest part of the day. What would I do in this situation? I would likely turn off my air conditioner or have it programmed to turn off when I need it the most or bite the bullet and except the higher electric bill.
That extra penalty you pay for using electricity when you aren’t supposed to would likely go to the government, just think of it as another tax.
Keep in mind that we now have 42 inch TV’s that use less electricity than one incandescent light bulb as well as many other efficiency break throughs. Even with all these advancements Google and regulators think that they need to force electric companies to charge more during the day to force people when to use their electricity?
The concept Google has would use a pricing system that moves consumers away from using electricity during times of the greatest electric grid system stress. I understand that this pricing system would help the electric grid but I think it is better suited for commercial businesses.
I would want to see this setup for certain sized businesses in Texas to encourage them to seek efficient methods of using electricity in their facility. I also think this would encourage the use of more on-site distributed generation systems for larger businesses which would take considerable stress off the electric grid.
When you understand how well the distributed generation systems program is working in Texas for commercial businesses it would make much more sense to encourage this program via commercial pricing changes rather than burdening residential customers with micro-management of how they choose to use their electricity.
Google’ own data centers use distributed generation off-grid electricity power so I would postulate that they should see what they can do to help other businesses have something similar but on a smaller scale rather than bother the small residential customer with high prices in the day.
Unfortunately, regulations dealing with air emissions,interconnection, net metering, and standby rates usually dictate whether a distributed generation project can even be implemented. I think the push should be towards working on ways to eliminate these barriers for businesses so they can disconnect from the states grid and use their own generated power thereby saving them money and freeing up the grid for everybody else.
In summary we as residential customers can still make a choice to use less electricity simply by upgrading to more efficient TV’s. appliances, light bulbs, etc as we can afford to do so. Do we really need to be forced to use less electricity by being penalized with a higher price? I think the government should stay out of the pricing business in my humble opinion. You can read more about this topic here