Energy Independence and Security Act

SGIP, New and Improved

Making the case for collaboration on interoperability standards

The mission of harmonizing industry standards moves forward in the work of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel 2.0, Inc.

Demand Growth and the New Normal

Five forces are putting the squeeze on electricity consumption.

It’s tempting to attribute the recent slowdown in electricity demand growth entirely to the Great Recession, but consumption growth rates have been declining for at least 50 years. The new normal rate of demand growth likely will be about half of its historic value, with demand rising by less than 1 percent per year. This market plateau calls for a new utility strategy.

Efficiency Beyond the Low Fruit

Continuous improvement requires changing practices and cultural norms.

As efficiency programs mature, utilities and regulators will be challenged to keep producing demand-side resources. A systems-oriented approach can yield cost-effective results.

Security and the States

The regulator’s role in promoting cybersecurity for the smart grid.

State commissions can select from a toolkit of regulatory approaches to promote desired utility cybersecurity behavior. One approach is to allow the industry to selfregulate, and another approach is to leave the job to the federal government. But sofar, neither the industry nor the federal government have developed and implemented adequate standards for securing the smart grid. States can play a constructive role—albeit perhaps not in the form of traditional regulation.

Going, Going ...

Clean energy jobs will be gone soon, if America fails to commit.

America needs an energy policy today that will bring together our best and brightest, harness the limitless capabilities of our research institutions, and invest whatever it takes to ensure America’s leadership in clean energy technologies. The result will be to create billion-dollar industries and millions of new jobs.

Technology for the Masses

The consumer-centric smart grid and its challenge for regulators.

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?

Energy Efficiency: 15 percent by 2020?

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.

Securing Tomorrow's Grid (Part II)

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.

Grid 2050

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.


The smart grid and the slippery business of setting industry standards.

Four years ago, Congress made its wishes known: it tabbed the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a set of standards for the smart grid, and then instructed FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “adopt” those standards, but only after finding a ”sufficient consensus,” and only “as may be necessary” to assure “functionality and interoperability.” Yet what is known is not necessarily clear. Who decides if consensus prevails? What does “interoperability” mean? Should FERC’s “necessary” finding extend to retail smart grid applications, arguably outside its purview? And the biggest dispute — must standards be mandatory? — finds PJM at odds with much of the utility industry.