Maryland needs a smart electric grid

The dust-up in Maryland over the Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. smart grid proposal highlights the importance of utilities, regulators and other stakeholders having a clear understanding about the range of potential benefits of smart grid technologies and the need to design smart grid plan expressly to achieve those goals.

The California Public Utilities Commission took a big step in the right direction recently when it approved a comprehensive plan to maximize the environment and consumer benefits of smart grid technologies. Studies have shown that a smart grid can reduce household utility bills 10 percent by giving consumers the tools to better manage energy use.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology and others have noted that a smart grid can reduce climate change pollution, air pollution, water and land impacts and oil consumption. What's more, a smart grid helps enable renewable energy integration and increased use of electric vehicles while mitigating the need to pay for new transmission lines and high-polluting power plants to handle energy demand at peak times.

With so much at stake, we are hopeful that Maryland's Public Service Commission and BGE can come to terms with a plan that launches Maryland into a clean energy future built on a smart, green grid.

Lauren Navarro, Sacramento, Calif.

The writer is an attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund.

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