Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Inviting Smart Grid Consumers to the Dance

I may miss a few, but the list of the biggest threats to the success of the emerging Smart Grid includes:
  • Complex technology
  • Well equipped, sophisticated attackers and other bad actors
  • Pressure to deploy ahead of still-forming standards
  • Immature or hastily conceived business plans/model
  • Aging equipment and aging workforces
  • Organizational and cultural rifts inside utility companies (e.g., IT vs. operational)
  • Inter-state legal and other jurisdiction challenges
But perhaps the greatest is also the simplest to understand and articulate: achieving real two-way communications between utilities and their customers. And I'm not talking about bi-directional digital networks; I'm talking old school ... meaning starting from zero and taking deliberate steps to forge and maintain real working relationships between providers and customers.

Maybe a little bit on the late-side (considering the recent, less-than-optimal experiences of PG&E, Xcel and Oncor customers) but better late than never, this article in Smart Grid News announces the formation of the non-profit Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC).

It's going to take more than this to get the word out. Many worldly and well educated peers in other sectors still draw a blank when they hear the term. Others have heard of the Smart Grid, but don't have the foggiest notion of what it is or why it's coming. I know because because, to their chagrin, I ask folks all the time. The formation of the SGCC isn't a full solution to the Smart Grid customer communications challenge by any means, but it sure smacks of a move in the right direction.

You can visit the SGCC site here and we recommend you do.

Photo Credit: The Seattle Municipal Archives on Flickr

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