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The Need for Essential Consumer Protections: Smart Metering Proposals and the Move to Time-Based Pricing

There is a widespread consensus that the U.S. distribution and transmission systems for vital electricity service need to be modernized and upgraded to handle not only load growth,
but the integration of renewable resources and the potential for a significant increase in electric-powered vehicles. This modernization has been recently promoted under the rubric
of the Smart Grid. The Smart Grid vision has three primary parts: (1) new communication and digital sensors and automation capabilities for the distribution and transmission systems, designed to make the grid more reliable and capable of integrating renewable and local-level distribution resources, as well as the potential growth in electric-powered vehicles; (2) new metering systems for all customers, designed to be a platform for operational efficiencies and new pricing programs to stimulate peak load reduction and lower consumption; and (3) direct interfaces between the new metering systems and customers through in-home technologies that enable customers to “see” their usage profile in real time and monitor or control specific appliances.