U.S. regulators propose criteria for DOE smart grid stimulus funding


Suedeen Kelly,
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 27, 2009 – United States state and federal regulators have outlined a list of criteria for the Department of Energy to consider when it starts providing grant and other funding for smart grid projects under the 2009 stimulus bill.

The regulators, under the Smart Grid Collaborative jointly sponsored by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), developed the criteria as a consensus for establishing preconditions under which smart grid projects would be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Among the overarching criteria the regulators say that projects should include projects on both the transmission and distribution system, and on the customer side of the meter. The projects should include a range of technologies, i.e. not just advanced meter installation, such as programmable communicating thermostats, smart appliances, and other technologies controlled by the end use customer. The projects also should be of sufficient scale to be able to apply statistical tests on where and how they impact consumers, the grid, and technologies.

Priority should be given to projects that have an open architecture base that can become the basis for interoperability with multiple applications. Furthermore early adopter states should not be disadvantaged and existing projects should be eligible if they can show additional benefits or expansion of knowledge that are unique and not likely to be realized by other proposed projects.

The regulators suggest that applications for grant funding should address how projects will provide for interoperability in the absence of approved standards and how they will address cyber security issues, as well as how they will maintain the reliability and integrity of the grid.

The regulators also propose that a range of technology options should be paired with existing or proposed rate designs, including dynamic rates, and that mechanisms to measure customer response must be included in the project. All data and documentation must also be made available to the DOE smart grid clearinghouse, which will develop guidelines for gathering and reporting this information.

“Getting a smart grid established in America is very important,” said FERC commissioner Suedeen Kelly. “We want the money that Congress has dedicated to this effort to be put to its best use. The criteria we propose are a consensus among 19 states and FERC on the best way that DOE can efficiently and effectively fund smart grid demonstration projects.”

“We must lay out clear ground rules that will ensure that the money is being used for its intended purpose,” said NARUC president Frederick Butler. “The criteria we are proposing reflects the consensus among State and federal regulators that any smart grid stimulus funding must be used for projects that enhance the safe, reliable, affordable, intelligent, and interactive operation of the interstate transmission and local distribution systems.”