D.C. Smart Grid – What’s the Benefit?

What do you imagine when you hear the term “Smart Grid”? You might think of the transmission lines connecting wind farms to your home, or electronic meters that display your power consumption and electricity bill in real time. But to Laurence Daniels, the most important part of the Smart Grid is not any machinery, but the relationship between the utility and its customers. As a director at the D.C. Office of the People’s Counsel, Mr. Daniels has paid keen attention to how smart grid technology and services are implemented around the U.S., and on Tuesday, June 26 he joined in a public forum to discuss why the transition from the traditional electric grid to a Smart Grid is important.

Hosted by the D.C. chapter of the Sierra Club, this forum sought to educate what is meant by the term “Smart Grid,” and what benefits can consumers expect as these technologies and dynamics move forward.

Eric Lightner, Director of the Federal Smart Grid Task Force at the Department of Energy, detailed the staggering size of the current grid – with 3,200 utility companies managing over six million miles of electrical lines – and discussed federal efforts to educate consumers with programs such as the Green Button initiative.

Dan Delurey, Executive Director of the Association for Demand Response and Smart Grid, gave an entertaining overview, punctuated by flashcards, of why the current grid is failing modern customers and how new technologies will optimize how electricity is generated and distributed across the U.S.

Mr. Daniels explained how the relationship between utilities and consumers is changing into a partnership, where both sides cooperate to achieve the cheapest and most efficient electrical generation.

Last, Bill Gausman, Senior Vice President of Asset Management and Planning at the utility Pepco Holdings, Inc., explained how newly implemented technologies are helping the utility handle everything from power outages to increased demand from charging electric vehicles.

The full event can be viewed here.

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