The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies hosted a recent forum titled, “The Smart Grid Promise: A Technology Policy Forum.” The event pulled together a number of representatives from private industry, consumer welfare groups, technology organizations and public officials to discuss the promise of the smart grid – cost savings, better data collection, energy savings, more consumer control over energy consumption and energy efficiency. Each panelist was asked to explore current efforts aimed at moving more of the country onto the smart grid, as well as what types of policies need to be adopted in order to ensure faster deployment and adoption of smart grid technology.
As we’ve highlighted before on NextGenWeb, the smart grid is possible because of the high-speed broadband networks connecting homes and utilities all across America. And it is thanks to the billions of dollars annually invested by America’s broadband providers that today make the promise of the smart grid closer to a reality.
Present on the panel were two representatives from two of those broadband providers leading the charge – AT&T and Verizon. Jeff Brueggeman, Vice President for Public Policy at AT&T, stated that a conversation about the smart grid must start by thinking about the full range of communications needs that enable the smart grid. The challenge, according to Brueggeman, is managing huge amounts of data that flow over the networks. This is why state of the art broadband networks are needed in order to ensure that seamless flow of data and information.
Larry Plumb, Executive Director of Emerging Issues and Technology Policy at Verizon, began by stating that Verizon sees the smart grid as a business opportunity. A good business model is to invest in what consumers really want. In this case, consumers want to save money and reduce their energy consumption, which the smart grid is allowing to happen. We caught up with Plumb following the panel to further elaborate on the idea of the smart grid as a business opportunity (see below).
During the audience Q&A, a question was posed of what affect the Net neutrality and other broadband regulation debates going on in Washington may have on smart grid policy. In near unanimity, the panelists echoed that network provider’s ability to manage their services will be key to realizing the full potential of the smart grid moving forward. To read more about the managed broadband services debate, click here.