A Twitter feed for your energy bill?

December 29, 2009: 10:00 AM ET

The smart grid's greatest asset -- real time information -- remains largely unused

By Bob Lento, president of information management, Convergys

"You could save $5 if do your laundry at night." That's the way utility companies hope to entice millions of Americans to use smart meters, which will help people and energy companies reduce peak hour energy demand and the burden it has on their pocketbooks.

To me it feels like déjà vu. Not long ago cellular phone companies learned that "free nights and weekends" could transform peak demand for network bandwidth from waves to ripples. By leveling out capacity needs, telecommunications companies saved millions in infrastructure investments for meeting peak demand, while offering a deal customers love.

For electricity companies the motivation to follow in their footsteps is huge. Peak hours create more blackouts, larger infrastructure costs, and more expensive energy as in-efficient backup power plants are fired up. But for utilities the success of "free nights and weekends" is still elusive. More

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