FERC adopts policy to speed smart grid development

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has adopted a Smart Grid Policy Statement setting priorities for development of standards it says are crucial to a reliable and “smart grid.”

One of FERC’s priorities is to develop standards to coordinate integration of emerging technologies into the power system, such as renewable resources and electricity storage facilities. Hydropower pumped storage is being promoted as a tool to support additions of intermittent generation to transmission grids from renewable energy sources. (HydroWorld 7/1/09)

Smart grid advancements are to apply digital technologies to the grid, enabling two-way communications and real-time coordination of information from both generating plants and demand-side resources. That is intended to improve the efficiency of the bulk power system with the goal of achieving long-term savings for consumers. It also is to help promote wider use of demand response and other activities that give consumers the tools to control their electricity costs.

FERC said the final policy, issued July 16, 2009, closely tracks a proposed policy it issued March 19. The agency received more than 70 sets of comments from interested groups.

The commission is convening technical conferences in September to explore emerging challenges to the nation’s transmission system and to examine transmission planning processes. (HydroWorld 7/1/09)

The smart grid policy is to guide the industry in developing smart grid standards for achieving “interoperability” and functionality of smart grid systems and devices. It also sets out FERC policy for recovery of costs by utilities that act early to adopt smart grid technologies.

The policy makes a priority the early development by industry of standards to:
o Ensure the cyber-security of the grid;
o Provide two-way communication among regional market operators, utilities, service providers, and consumers;
o Ensure that power system operators have equipment that allows them to operate reliably by monitoring their own systems as well as neighboring systems; and
o Coordinate the integration into the power system of emerging technologies such as renewable resources, demand response, electricity storage facilities, and electric transportation systems.

The policy, which takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, may be obtained from the FERC Internet site, www.ferc.gov, under www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/2009/071609/E-3.pdf.

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