Is smart grid the answer to greenhouse gases?

By Teresa Hansen,
Editor in Chief

For two or three years, I, like many others in the industry, have waited for Congress to pass energy legislation, including either cap and trade or carbon taxes.

Anticipation of such legislation has been credited with propelling smart grid build out and a law likely would propel it farther. In summer 2009, the Waxman-Markey bill made it through the House of Representatives, but the Senate failed to pass it within one year, which is required for a bill to become law.

As I write this editorial, midterm elections are days away and several races are too tight to predict. From an energy legislation standpoint, most experts don’t believe it matters if Democrats retain control of the House or if they lose the majority to Republicans.

Either way, the 112th Congress is not likely to pass an energy bill addressing carbon limits. A small bill including energy efficiency and clean technologies incentives is more likely.

For nearly two years, President Obama’s administration and many in Congress have pushed cap and trade, carbon taxes and renewable portfolio standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

A Texas public utility commissioner, who asked to remain anonymous, recently told me (along with a small group of utility executives) that if the current administration had been smart, it would have pushed smart grid build out over these other strategies. Smart grid could create jobs and reduce carbon emissions more, he said.

Rather than wait on Congressional direction on how to proceed with long-term growth plans and investments, maybe utilities should consider the Texas commissioner’s recommended strategy.

Smart grid is a good investment for utilities and a good way to curb GHG emissions. You and I already understand this; others might not. We must help convince environmental and consumer groups who influence lawmakers and consumers that legislation isn’t the only way to address GHG issues.

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Is smart grid the answer to greenhouse gases?

By Teresa Hansen,
Editor in Chief

For two or three years, I, like many others in the industry, have waited for Congress to pass energy legislation, including either cap and trade or carbon taxes.

Anticipation of such legislation has been credited with propelling smart grid build out and a law likely would propel it farther. In summer 2009, the Waxman-Markey bill made it through the House of Representatives, but the Senate failed to pass it within one year, which is required for a bill to become law.

As I write this editorial, midterm elections are days away and several races are too tight to predict. From an energy legislation standpoint, most experts don’t believe it matters if Democrats retain control of the House or if they lose the majority to Republicans.

Either way, the 112th Congress is not likely to pass an energy bill addressing carbon limits. A small bill including energy efficiency and clean technologies incentives is more likely.

For nearly two years, President Obama’s administration and many in Congress have pushed cap and trade, carbon taxes and renewable portfolio standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

A Texas public utility commissioner, who asked to remain anonymous, recently told me (along with a small group of utility executives) that if the current administration had been smart, it would have pushed smart grid build out over these other strategies. Smart grid could create jobs and reduce carbon emissions more, he said.

Rather than wait on Congressional direction on how to proceed with long-term growth plans and investments, maybe utilities should consider the Texas commissioner’s recommended strategy.

Smart grid is a good investment for utilities and a good way to curb GHG emissions. You and I already understand this; others might not. We must help convince environmental and consumer groups who influence lawmakers and consumers that legislation isn’t the only way to address GHG issues.