The consumer-centric smart grid and its challenge for regulators.
Charles J. Cicchetti and Philip Mause
Federal and state regulators play a critical role in the evolution of the smart grid. Lawmakers face a host of questions, from deciding who owns consumer data and how it can be used, to defining a new range of regulated and unregulated utility services and applications. How much regulation will be needed to manage the transformation to a smart grid? And how much regulation will be too much?
(July 2011) Williams Partners L.P. expands Transco transmission lines; Google to provide fiber optic Internet service for Kansas City, Mo.; Constellation Energy picks Lynxspring Inc.; plus contracts and developments involving Servidyne, EnerNOC, Siemens Energy and others.
T&D and Smart Grid
The ZigBee Alliance and the Wi-Fi Alliance entered an agreement to collaborate on wireless home area networks (HAN) for smart-grid applications. The initial focus of the collaboration will be ZigBeeSmart Energy Profile 2.0, which is the next-generation energy management protocol for smart grid-enabled homes based on today’s successful ZigBeeSmart Energy Profile. The ZigBeeSmart Energy Profile 2.0 is expected to be extended to operate over Wi-Fi technology as a result of the collaboration.
Siemens Energy has been awarded an 18-month, $300,000 R&D program by the Illinois Clean Coal Institute to study the effects of coal and coal-derived syngas combustion on the behavior of material and coating degradation in utility boiler and gas turbine environments. Focus areas of the research program will explore materials degradation modes in integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) systems and utility boilers.
Realizing the benefits of smart meters.
Michael Henry Price and Jim Thomson
Information is power, and through smart technologies utility customers will gain access to that information. The challenge faced by utilities is to harness consumer benefits by boosting customer acceptance and participation in programs designed to lower system expenses.
An integrated approach could prove more effective for controlling emissions.
Despite political challenges, the EPA and Congress have made strides toward a more coherent and integrated approach to regulating air emissions. The time is right to reach consensus on a multi-pollutant strategy.
New rate structures prioritize conservation, but will customers buy it?
As saving energy becomes a policy priority, utility commissioners struggle to reconcile traditional revenue models with smart metering and smart pricing. Unlocking conservation potential will depend on transforming passive ratepayers into smart consumers. Fortnightly hosts a roundtable discussion with commissioners from six states.
Vendors battle it out while utilities await common communications protocols.
Uncertainties about smart metering goals are hindering efforts to standardize communications protocols and feature sets. While vendors battle over standards, utilities and policy makers are moving forward anyway—despite the potential for setbacks.
Pilot projects clarify the vision of an intelligent utility system.
Pilot projects are bringing the future vision of the grid to life. Whether leveraging existing systems or rebuilding entire networks in a Big Bang rollout, new technology applications suggest an intuitive electrical network may not be far off.
Why many state regulators still have qualms about endorsing smart meters.
A year ago, in its formal investigation of state policy on smart meters, the Florida Public Service Commission conceded that while three of the state’s five major investor-owned electric utilities offered an optional time-of-use rate to residential customers, participation in fact remained “typically quite small,” averaging only about 1 percent.