U.S. utility regulators provide framework for smart grid advocacy


Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 27, 2011 – The Board of Directors of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) have issued a resolution on smart grid principles, providing a framework for NARUC smart grid advocacy, identifying issues, and recognizing that new issues will emerge.

The resolution states that state commissions should consider the potential for smart grid investments to improve reliability, provide for a more resilient power system, reduce peak demand, provide consumers with more detailed information regarding their energy usage, integrate renewable resources, reduce consumption of electricity, increase operational efficiencies to potentially offset or reduce the rate of increasing electricity costs, and enable economic growth and innovation.

When evaluating such proposed investments, the state commissions should require the quantification of the benefits and costs of the proposed project(s), but cost recovery should be predicated primarily on the cost of such investments and any economic, reliability, environmental, or other benefits.

Further, state commissions should consider whether to encourage or require the use of tools including dynamic rate structures, energy usage information and comparisons, in-home devices and web-based portals, which can help consumers understand their energy usage, and they should require implementation plans to include comprehensive consumer education programs. They also should consider the potential interaction with smart appliances.

Consumers should have access to their own energy usage data. Such consumer energy usage data (CEUD) should continue to be available to the regulated utilities for the purpose of providing essential regulated utility service, but rules that govern data access must balance privacy with innovation. Further, consumer privacy is essential and should be protected.

On interoperability the resolution calls on state commissions to consider how certified smart grid interoperability standards may reduce the cost and improve the performance of smart grid projects, and to hold utilities responsible for ensuring that smart grid technologies are deployed in a manner consistent with reasonable and effective cyber and physical security best practices.

Finally NARUC notes that while welcoming federal technical assistance from the DOE and other initiatives, federal policies should not interfere with state jurisdiction or programs but help ensure that consumers can receive the full benefits of smart grid deployments.