A decision-maker’s checklist provide a starting point—but not an end-point.
Alison Silverstein, an independent consultant, was senior advisor to Chairman Pat Wood at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Richard Schomberg is vice president of research for EDF International North America. Other members of the GridWise Architecture Council Policy Team who contributed to this article include Dr. Lynne Kiesling (senior lecturer, Northwestern University), Ron Ambrosio (manager, Internet-scale control systems, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center), Erich Gunther (CTO, EnerNex Corp.), and David Cohen (CEO, Infotility). The GridWise Architecture Council (GWAC) is dedicated to the development and implementation of interoperability principles and standards for the modernization of the electric power network. Unlike other grid modernization proponents, the GWAC focuses only on interoperability principles and architectural frameworks to facilitate the smart grid.
Recent predictions suggest that the U.S. electric industry will invest $300 billion in new transmission and distribution (T&D) facilities (including advanced meters) over the next decade, and $400 billion in new power plants over the next 25 years to meet forecasted demand growth. If we start now, we can build interoperability principles and capabilities into those investments and hasten the improvements in reliability, costs, innovation and value that interoperability can deliver. If we do not, more resources will be wasted, more assets stranded, and reliability threatened by our failure to move ahead with grid modernization and interoperability.
What We Talk About When We Talk About the Grid
When people talk about the “modern” or “smart” grid, interoperability is a necessary foundation of that concept. Within the electricity system, interoperability means the seamless, end-to-end connectivity of hardware and software from the customers’ appliances all the way through the transmission and distribution (T&D) system to the power source, enhancing the coordination of energy flows with real-time flows of information and analysis.