Archive for April, 2009

More Musings on the Smart Grid

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

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As is well known amongst those who try to define this area, there is no simple definition of a smart grid, no national standards for operating the grid such as those established for the natural gas pipeline grid, and no consensus as to how the  grid should operate.  Over the years FERC has proceeded one step at a time to tie 48 state fiefdoms together, at least for buying and selling wholesale electricity in interstate commerce.  I do not know the particulars of each rulemaking, but there is extensive documentation on FERC’s website. Legislation has given FERC more power in interstate transmission siting and it seems to be taking a major role in implementing the smart grid, but intrastate matters will continue to stay within the realm of the state public utility commissions.

DOE (http://www.oe.energy.gov/smartgrid.htm) lists the following characteristics of a smart grid:

  • Self-healing from power disturbance events
  • Enabling active participation by consumers in demand response
  • Operating resiliently against physical and cyber attack
  • Providing power quality for 21st century needs
  • Accommodating all generation and storage options
  • Enabling new products, services, and markets
  • Optimizing assets and operating efficiently

This is a rather useful list of functions for examining smart grid policy.  Note that the list refers to end results or what the smart grid should accomplish, not which technology makes up the grid.  Since it is focused on provision of electric service, it does not mention potential sales of broadband over powerline to wholesale and retail customers as a means to offset some of the costs.   This is a byproduct of certain smart grid technologies.

I will return to this list from time to time when discussing smart grid policy.

HEK