The $4 Dollar Gasoline Syndrome
In implementing such an aggressive program for our system the question of “why” can not be ignored. Are we doing this because of the political trends sweeping the country? Or is this some ploy to gain more access over member’s information and in-home use? Indeed, some members will not trust us, or any utility, enough to allow such futuristic authority over their appliances and creature comforts. We recognize this, and therefore do not plan to force our way into any member’s home or business.
On the other hand, we see dramatic changes ahead for our industry and they all involve much higher costs for electricity. Forecast after forecast is predicting 30, even 40, percent increases in generation costs. All utilities pass these costs on to their customers or members. Whether our members are motivated by conscience, cost, or both, we want to be in position to help them be successful. That’s the four dollar gasoline syndrome. When the price gets high enough, people’s attitudes change, cars get smaller and driving distances get shorter. A day of reckoning is coming to our industry. We plan to be ready. We also believe our members not only want, but deserve, real-time rate and usage information. And we also believe many of our members desire to manage their electric load and generate a portion if not all of their electricity needs. The distribution utility of the future will help, not hinder, their customer’s access to the grid.
This will not be an easy task, nor will it be inexpensive. While we embrace the concepts and the tasks associated with a more interactive grid, we will adhere to the same discipline we showed in modernizing our infrastructure the past five years. We will not jeopardize our financial strength or our competitive rates. Therefore, we will seek strategic Sustainable Grid™ Alliances with other utilities and our wholesale generation partner, and we will seek outside assistance in funding our technology.
Success will not come simply with the installation of new meter technology, but only when we are producing and consuming electricity in partnership with our members, equal to or less than the demands we place on the grid. This will not happen in a year or in a decade; it will require a generation of hard work and dedication.
It’s a tall order, but then, so was Edison’s light bulb.