Intelligent infrastructure requires an intelligent policy framework.
Mark Gabriel is a senior vice president and principal with R.W. Beck. His book, Visions for a Sustainable Energy Future (Fairmont Press) won the 2009 Indie Excellence Award for Environmental Publishing.
The current view of the smart grid is as an extension and extrapolation of the existing distribution and transmission networks, bolstered with technologies such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) giving visibility and control from buss bar to end-use devices coupling communications and computing into a new web of intelligent infrastructure.
While much of the discussion has been about building out this new grid on today’s business model, financing, managing and controlling it will necessitate a new framework—one that may be as dramatic in how it changes the industry as wrought by the technologies themselves. The answer lies in the creation of what might be termed the new grid efficiency framework (GEF). This framework will require a new understanding between utilities and their regulators that will allow the industry to advance its goals of reduced carbon emissions, improved system operations and efficiency, all while maintaining the highest reliability standards.