In my mind, it seemed like a great idea. You paid different rates based on WHEN you used power. So if I needed to run the dish washer it would be cheaper for me to do so after 5 p.m. and even cheaper after 8 p.m. during off peak hours.
Not only could it decrease your cost of electricity it would take strain off of the 'grid' during peak hours if people shifted their use.
Unfortunately, there were too many bleeding hearts on the panel who thought it wasn't "fair" to everyone. The highest cost would be the same for everyone and then if you adjusted your usage it would go down from there. But these whiners came up with all kinds of possible exceptions that could potentially be treated unfairly by this change in billing - People with special needs who had to use electricity all day, poor people, the elderly. Bla bla bla. None of their bills would actually go up, but since they might not be able to benefit from the lower rates it wasn't fair. It was incredibly frustrating and ultimately their complaints won out and the program got scrapped.
So everyone pays more so that it can be "fair" to everyone (gee, what does that sound like?). Those who may have been "harmed" (using that word loosely here) don't get the choice of lower rates, and neither does anyone else.
It looks like another company is at least trying to move forward with a similar idea by installing Smart Meters to monitor usage. I'm not so sure I love this idea entirely, especially the control they'd have from some main center to turn power on and off, but it's not a bad idea to let people know exactly how much power they are using.
If a utility decides to shut off a customer for nonpayment, it can do so by remote control; if the customer pays enough money to allow resumption of service, the utility can also do that from a central office without sending out a representative.I'm torn on the whole shutting people's power off power...but in general if you don't pay you shouldn't get a service and power is no exception. And I like the fact that these smart meters can tell the company instantly that someone's power has gone out (which ours has twice in the past three weeks).
The long-term impact of the smart meters is uncertain. Some studies show that people use less electricity when they can see the numbers ticking higher on the meter.
Aside from the concern over 'big brother' type monitoring, I really like the idea behind smart meters. Being able to monitor my power usage and adjusting it to pay less is a very appealing idea. Knowledge is power after all. :)