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Smart Grid in America and Europe (Part II)

Past accomplishments and future plans.

Fortnightly Magazine - February 2011


In the U.S. in 2007, the EISA gave NIST primary responsibility to develop a country wide smart grid framework, protocols, and model standards for interoperability of smart grid devices and systems. 58 The ARRA allocated $10 million to NIST. 59 NIST is working with interest groups and partnering with the DOE GridWise Architectural Council and NIST Domain Expert Working Group, which is composed of more than 100 organizations. NIST work is divided into a three-phase approach: engage the public in identification of standards and specification; establish a formal public and private partnership, called the Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Panel, to drive long-term progress, and create a testing and performance regime. Extensive topics of study include transmission and distribution, demand response, efficiency, wide-area situational awareness, and even business and policy. 60 In January 2010, NIST issued the Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards .61 In September of the same year, NIST announced the release of the initial set of Guidelines for Smart Grid Cyber Security. 62 A month later, in October, FERC created a docket to consider NIST’s interoperability standards for potential rulemaking. 63

The NIST assessments of existing standards show how international frameworks already address some of the interoperability and reliability challenges of the smart grid. Although the U.S. has done more evaluation as part of a government directive, the E.U.’s recent mandate for standards formulation shows it is currently working on this issue. The communication networks are connected worldwide and just like international Internet protocols, the standard development projects of both governments are intended to be used as flexible and effective tools to create an interconnected digital smart grid that is also protected from security risks and contingencies. 

Cost Recovery, Outreach and Workforce

Regardless of the name for the grid improvements—smart grid, intelligent grid, “Intelligrid” 64 or otherwise—the U.S. and E.U. governments agree there are benefits to be had from grid infrastructure upgrades. It is estimated that an upgraded grid will cost $165 billion over 20 years. 65 The U.S. stimulus has set aside $3.4 billion for smart grid deployment. The E.U. EEGI budgets €1 billion for projects from 2010 to 2012 (money for research and demonstrations, but not deployment), 32 million for fiscal year 2010, and 39 million for fiscal years 2011 to 2014. The benefits of these expenditures are difficult to measure in the short term because of the diverse nature of smart grid improvements and applications, but there is growing consensus that without new investment, the existing grid will not meet the needs of an even more sophisticated digital society. The grid is at least 50 years old in the U.S. and much of the grid in the E.U. was built after World War II. 66 In order to meet our future society’s dependency on advanced digital and communication technology, the grid must be more reliable. In fact, the 2003 outage in the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada cost $7 to $10 billion. 67 In total, outages cost at least $100 billion per year on average. 68 

At this time,