"This is a very big deal," he said. "The system needs to know what the demand is."
Nationally, demand for electricity is leveling off as residential power use falls, experts say, reversing a long upward trend. More efficient lighting and electric devices are partly credited for the change. New homes also are being built to use less electricity and government subsidies for home energy savings programs help older homes use less power. Rourke said the weak economy also has contributed to reduced electricity use.
New England used about 130,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity last year. One gigawatt-hour can serve about 1 million homes for one hour.