Burlington Votes On Smart Grid Plan

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(Host) Voters in Burlington are deciding today whether the city should invest in smart grid technology.

Supporters say that new technology would improve energy efficiency by decreasing demand during the most expensive peak hours.

Burlington Electric customers would be sent a signal advising them when to cut back on their usage.

Barbara Grimes is general manager of the Burlington Electric Department. She says the current grid is inefficient.

(Grimes) "In today’s world, we have to be more nimble, more efficient in how we service our customers. And the addition of small grid tech will give Burlington Electric a better understanding of usage – not only the amount but the time."

(Host) Grimes also says it will help her company better manage when there are outages.

(Grimes) "Right now we have to rely on a customer calling in where with both the improvements to our distribution system along with smart meters, we’ll be able to pinpoint locations and get people back on quicker. And it will also allow us to deploy renewable energy into our system at the time that it’s available."

(Host) But opponents of the smart grid question its safety. They worry it will emit radio frequency that could cause cancer. Others say it will cost too much, at least initially.

In today’s special election, voters will decide whether to fund $7.5 million of the project. The other 50 percent would be funded through a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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