The smart grid requires utilities and regulators to assert leadership.
Adopting an interoperable framework for the smart grid isn’t just a question of technology standardization. It’s also about navigating the legal, regulatory, and business factors that affect technology implementation. Making the smart grid work will require utilities and regulators to assert leadership.
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?
A new survey of energy industry experts reveals a surprising consensus on the size of the energy efficiency resource. Overall, energy efficiency is expected to lower electricity consumption by 5 to 15 percent, and natural gas consumption by 5 to 10 percent. These results debunk the notion that conservation is a fad. On the contrary, they herald a new beginning for energy efficiency.
Efficiency pessimists contend that energy efficiency (inclusive of demand response) is unlikely to make much of a dent on energy consumption and peak demand in the year 2020 since all the low-hanging fruit has been harvested. Ergo, the solution to meeting the nation’s future energy needs in a carbon-constrained future is to build more power plants (preferably those that don’t burn coal), transmission lines and distribution systems.
Protecting the smart grid requires a broader strategy.
NERC’s critical infrastructure protection (CIP) standards set a minimum level of security performance—and only for high-voltage transmission systems, not the distribution grid. A compliance-checklist approach to security might lack the adaptability needed to combat evolving threats like the Stuxnet worm. A multi-layered, risk-based approach will provide better protection for the emerging smart grid.
Public-private collaboration to protect our infrastructure.
Smart grid technologies bring a host of cyber security considerations that need to be addressed throughout the transmission and distribution domain—and even into the customer’s home. In the second of two exclusive articles, Department of Energy authors team up with industry experts to provide a path forward for securing the smart grid.
Shaping system transformation.
New technologies—and new expectations—require taking a fresh look at the institutions and practices that have provided reliable electricity for the past century. Collective action is needed to define the key attributes of a future grid and then to take the more difficult next step—adapting our processes and institutions to align with that future vision. A thoughtful approach will allow America to capture the potential value that’s offered by sweeping changes in technologies and policies.
Why electricity is good—and more is better.
A century of electrification shows clearly that more electricity—and cheaper electricity—enhances public health, raises living standards and also improves the environment. Conversely, higher prices harm businesses and families, with a disproportionate impact on low-income households. Public welfare goals are best served by public policies that make electricity more accessible and affordable to the masses—not less.
Protecting critical assets in a hazardous world.
In the wake of recent global-scale cyber intrusions, security concerns have expanded from being compliance and operational issues to fundamental risk management considerations. An integrated, enterprise-wide approach holds the greatest promise for securing critical utility infrastructure against increasing dangers in cyberspace.
Protecting smart systems against cyber threats.
Smart grid technologies bring a host of cyber security considerations that need to be addressed throughout the T&D domain—and even into the customer’s home. In this exclusive report, Department of Energy authors team up with industry experts to examine how to deal with the changes and challenges of securing the smart grid.
Utilities prepare for a bumpy road.
Ed May and Stephen Johnson
Electric vehicles promise major benefits for utilities, including increased electricity sales and accelerated transformation of passive energy consumers into collaborative stakeholders. But EV integration faces major challenges, from transformer overloading to the complexity of managing mobile transactions. Addressing these challenges in a collaborative way will allow the industry—and the country—to realize the benefits of a healthy market for electric transportation services.