AARP Dumbs Down Maryland's Important Smart Grid Initiative


Old Buick drivers lobby 'till the wheels are off. Image credit:Jennifer Zimmerman, Pbase

The codger lobby is frantically arguing that smart metering will bring added expense to the low income retiree. It's paranoid, unsubstantiated thinking and it's working. The Maryland Public Service Commission has sunk a flagship smart grid initiative of the Obama Administration, As reported in the NYT Energy & Environment section: "A utility proposal to install smart meters throughout Maryland has been rejected by the state's Public Service Commission, jeopardizing if not ending what had been one of the Obama administration's leading [$200 million] investment commitments to smart grid technologies and consumer energy conservation." Very much reminds me of the 'grandparent paradox' effect on school budgets.The GP paradox works like this. Every grand parent wants their grand kid (who likely lives in a school district outside their own) to have a great public education. They also want their own property taxes minimized and since they no longer have kids in school lobby for cutbacks in school budgets - forgetting that grandparents in their grandchild's district are doing the very same thing.

Here's the money quote from the Time's quoted expert:

...But he said that around the county, commissions are heeding warnings from state consumer advocates and retiree organizations about possible cost impacts on customers if electricity rates are linked to actual generation costs, hour by hour.

"Most of the state commissions are frozen in time. They are being subjected to these very, very pessimistic, worst-case arguments," he said.

The Maryland commission's ruling noted predictions by an AARP witness that up to 40 percent of low-income customers would see higher summer energy bills and up to 15 percent would see higher annual energy bills. Faruqui said Brattle's research shows that around the country, lower-income customers would be affected least, because they typically do not have large central air conditioning systems and other high-demand appliances.

How to fight this? Call your grandparents and/or parents and ask them to threaten to drop their AARP membership if this keeps up. Tell them that if they want their kids and grand kids to have any kind of future that the smart grid initiatives deserve support, not blind opposition.

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