California PUC launches state smart grid framework


Nancy E. Ryan,
California PUC
San Francisco, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 28, 2010 – The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has set out a vision and framework for smart grids, aimed at providing guidance for the state’s three investor owned utilities in filing their smart grid deployment plans.

In terms of state legislation, SB 17, which became effective January 1, 2010, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and Southern California Edison Company are required to file their smart grid deployment plans with the PUC by July 1, 2011.

The deployment plans are required to follow a common outline, consisting of eight topics as follows:
1. Smart grid vision statement, to help orient the utility’s efforts to upgrade its electrical system to meet today’s requirements and tomorrow’s needs using the latest technologies, and considering how the utility plans to promote a smart market, smart customer, and smart utility.
2. Deployment baseline, in order to understand the character of the California grid today and to articulate a strategy for achieving the goals.
3. Smart grid strategy, providing direction and considering whether using existing communications infrastructure can reduce the costs of deploying the smart grid.
4. Grid security and cyber security strategy, to ensure that these issues are considered explicitly at the planning stage.
5. Smart grid roadmap, identifying how the technology deployment aligns with policy and statutory deadlines and including the essential infrastructure steps that must be taken to provide customers with access to consumption and pricing data.
6. Cost estimates, including the costs of smart grid technologies and infrastructure investments that the utility expects to make in the next five years, and provisional cost ranges for potential smart grid technologies and investments for the following five years
7. Benefits estimates, assessing as far as possible all the benefits associated with the implementation of this new technology.
8. Metrics, in order permit the assessment of progress.

“Smart grid technology offers California energy consumers many potential benefits such as fewer new power plants and transmission lines, safer and more reliable service, cleaner air, and lower bills,” said Commissioner Nancy E. Ryan, who led the development of the framework. “This rigorous planning process will ensure that utility customers actually see these benefits.”

In terms of the framework decision, the initial deployment plans of the three utilities will be reviewed in a single proceeding. However, subsequent utility requests to make specific smart grid-related investments would occur in utility-specific proceedings.

Finally, the utilities will be required to file annual reports on their smart grid activities, with the first annual reports due on October 1, 2012.

The finalization of the framework is the culmination of more than two years of work by the California PUC, utilities, consumer advocates, technology companies, and other interested parties. It also kicks off the next phase of the process as the decision directs parties to continue to address issues surrounding security, privacy, and third party access to customer information.