I attended an enlightening workshop on Smart Grid development at yesterday’s MIT Energy Conference. While the political will to re-shape our electric infrastructure seems to be there (at least at the top, White House, DOE, etc.) the obstacles are, well – daunting on several levels. Security and technical standards are getting much attention, but I was glad to hear this panel address the communication and human factors involved. This is essentially a change management challenge, on a continental scale.
At least one speaker seemed to think that consumers will only pay for infrastructure upgrades if they see personal economic benefit, but I don’t agree. Americans pay enormous sums for things that provide social cachet or emotional rewards. I suppose we just need Smart Grid toys that are as cool as an iPhone.