Blog Archive

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another World - Part 3 of 3

As we move toward another world with respect to electric power, we certainly want to take advantage of the things we have learned over the last few years as we prepared for this new adventure. During our years of experience at providing electric power, then cable television, then internet service, and finally telephone service, we figured out several things about our customers here in Glasgow. For example, we know that our customers like it best when we take care of their technology decisions, the training for using new technology, the implementation of new technology, and you also like it when we provide ongoing support for any troubles in using our various products and services. We know that very few of our customers actually understand what a kilowatt-hour is, and further, we understand that you really don’t want to know what one is.

All of these lessons learned lead us to believe that very few of our customers will be interested in us just simply implementing a TOU (time of use) electric rate schedule and then leaving it up to them to install programmable thermostats and other switches and controls that could be used to save money on a TOU rate. This experience is what gives us a head start on the other utilities, and equipment vendors, who are trying to roll out programmable devices and homeowner electric meter information sites in the hope that customers will use these devices to lower the peak demand on electric systems. They still assume it will work, we are cynical about that because of our experience with customers and the many new technologies we have implemented for them over the years.

We believe infotricity can become a reality and that the advent of infotricity will reduce the peak demand for electric power and allow fewer carbon dioxide belching generators to satisfy our need for energy. But we also are convinced that the utility will need to reach far into the home and provide much of the control of HVAC systems and major appliances for the benefits of infotricity to become a reality. That rattles some folks as they see this as an intrusion into energy use decisions that have always been their right. We certainly do not expect to reach in and control anything in your home without your permission. We believe there will always be the option to refuse to cooperate on these new load management controls, but it is also very likely that such refusal will result in much higher electric rates for those that wish to remain ruggedly independent. As stated previously in this series, the days of artificially low electric rates made possible by some users subsidizing the habits of less efficient users is coming to a screeching halt. It really does not require a crystal ball to predict that outcome.

So, coming around the bend are our plans to convince you to allow us, and/or our local contractors, to install a programmable thermostat for your electric heat pumps and air conditioners, and we will be trying to negotiate a deal with you that will allow us to slightly increase and decrease the temperature in your home in return for a credit on your bill. We will be trying to convince you to allow us to control when your electric water heater does its work. We may also be trying to convince you to allow our local vendors to install new refrigerators, dish washers, clothes dryers, etc., that will also respond to our control signals such that electric power demand can be shaped more efficiently. All of these things are coming, and the technology that allows all of this to happen will be possible because of the broadband network that we started building back in 1988. While all of these new technologies are complicated and amazing marvels of modern science, we know that the really tough part of this process will be getting the word out.

As a reader of this blog, you represent one of the roughly one thousand folks who read this information each month. Since there are at least seven thousand homes and businesses in Glasgow that we need communicate with about these matters, we need to find a better way to communicate with the rest of our customers who do not read this blog. We also have access to cable advertising, which we will also use to inform folks about this new world and the things we need to do to help them live happily in it, but we know from experience that many folks will swear they never heard about it on television either. We will use radio advertising, electronic signs around town, and direct messages contained in the monthly billing. Still, we know that many will not be reached this way either. We might try sky writing as it seemed to work for the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, but I am still skeptical of it working here in Glasgow. If you have ideas on how we can do a better job of getting this information out, please let me know.

So, as we have said, another world is coming. It might arrive as soon as November of this year. So what can you be doing right now to prepare for it? Well, this whole new world is going to revolve around the use of electric power. If you have a natural gas water heater and gas heating, you should consider moving toward electric powered appliances if you want the opportunity to free yourself from the massive cost swings associated with natural gas. If your water heater fails within the next couple of months, consider a high efficiency electric water heater as it will work with infotricity. If you are considering the installation of a programmable thermostat, well, perhaps you should wait a few months on that because we might be doing that for you. Most of all, the best way to prepare for this new world is to make yourself available to listen to the things that are going to be available to you in the new world, and help us get your neighbor’s attention as well. We truly want to help every single resident of Glasgow understand what the new world is going to be like and we want everyone to understand what wonderful opportunities are coming our way.


geothermalcontractor said...

"we will be trying to negotiate a deal with you that will allow us to slightly increase and decrease the temperature in your home in return for a credit on your bill."...I think this is very considerate. This was a well written article and I think anything you guys can do to help our community transition to an eco-friendly era would be great. Thanks for sharing.