Capitol Hill Watch: Legislation Would Promote Smart Grid Consumer Rights, Open Fuel Standard

Bill Would Establish Consumer Rights for Smart Grid Systems

US Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) reintroduced a bill that would establish consumer rights related to the proliferation of smart grid systems nationwide.

According to a statement from Udall’s office, the Electric Consumer Right to Know Act is intended to ensure that people  have timely access and control over the information on their electric meters.

The legislation – dubbed eKnow – is co-sponsored by Scott Brown (R-MA) and is supported by the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (DRSG).

It would ensure that the right to consumer data access is technology neutral, allowing people to choose how they get and use their energy consumption information. As a result, ratepayers could use energy management products that are independent of the utility’s electric meter.

Furthermore, the e-Know bill gives people the right to authorize access to their usage data by companies that provide these third-party products and services.

Bipartisan Legislation Expands Motor Fuel Choices

A bipartisan group of US Representatives introduced a bill that could expand fueling options at gas station’s nationwide.

The Open Fuel Standard Act (HR 1687) would require that 50% of new automobiles in 2014, 80% in 2016, and 95% in 2017, would be able to operate on nonpetroleum fuels in addition to or instead of petroleum based fuels. 

The choice of fuels includes flex fuel (ethanol), natural gas, hydrogen, biodiesel, plug-in electric, and fuel cell.

Lawmakers say the requirement will provide certainty to investors to produce alternative fuels and fueling stations.

“My goal is for the consumer to have the choice when they pull up to the pump.  A choice of fuels made from oil, coal, renewables, natural gas, waste products, and other feedstock,” co-sponsor John Shimkus (R, IL) said.  “The consumer can then make a choice based on price or the energy source. In addition, this is one way for our nation to move toward energy independence.”

Other sponsors are: Eliot Engel (D-NY), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), and Steve Israel (D-NY).

Bartlett says, “The International Energy Agency (IEA) documented that worldwide conventional crude oil production peaked in 2006-2007. As a result, Americans face the prospect of repeated oil supply shocks and ruinous price spikes. This technology neutral Open Fuel Standard legislation will give Americans options they can choose to end their personal dependence and the strategic monopoly of oil for transportation. That’s why we have come together as Republicans and Democrats to support OFS as a key step to break the cycle of pain at the pump.”

In the past, the Big Three auto companies said they’re willing to make 50% of new vehicles flex-fuel by 2012. The cost of doing so is about $100 per vehicle.

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