What is missing in our knowledge of smart grid implementation?


Carl Imhoff,
Market Sector
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — December 3, 2009 – What are the gaps in knowledge about the implementation of smart grid technologies and what are the critical areas where information should be tracked and presented to understand the level of success of smart grid projects?

These are the questions the GridWise Alliance sets out to answer in a new publication, as a contribution to improving and accelerating the progress of smart grid demonstrations and learning from these efforts for the benefit of nationwide smart grid implementation.

The publication identifies eleven specific knowledge gaps, which should be studied and/or evaluated, as follows:

  • How do consumers respond to continuous requests to curtail demand?
  • How will transmission and distribution markets establish a common basis for regulatory innovation to support smart grid deployment?
  • How can the benefits of smart grid be quantified to demonstrate a host of claims?
  • What will the framework be for system interoperability between new smart grid communications and markets and existing systems?
  • What measurements are necessary to understand how demand side controls impact the supply side during outages?
  • What types of regulatory support are necessary to provide meaningful demand response as renewable generation increases?
  • What is needed to protect customer privacy in a two-way communications system?
  • How can new digital transmission monitoring systems evolve into control systems?
  • How can smart grid monitoring systems deliver lower reliability risks at the interconnection level?
  • How will the concept of distributed agents figure into the implementation of smart grid technologies?
  • What additional data is needed to demonstrate the benefits of smart grid?

The national investment in major regional smart grid demonstrations can deliver the most value to the nation’s smart grid agenda if they meet common standards for evaluation and if a broad population of regulatory models is covered in the demonstrations, says the publication. Two basic guidelines are suggested, of which one is to seek substantial demand response demonstrations (20,000+ premises) in four main regulatory footprints, i.e. investor-owned utility (IOU) in a traditional vertically integrated utility environment, IOU in a ISO run market environment, tax exempt public utility with municipal utilities and public utility commissions serving as the load serving entities, and electric cooperative/Rural Electrification Administration (REA) structure with generation and transmissions providing high voltage delivery and base load power.

The second is that a common standard for program evaluation needs to be set for projects attracting federal investment per the EISA Title XIII guidance to ensure that results are available and useful for review by stakeholders from regulatory to utility to policy to the vendor community.

“These are critical gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed at the national level,” said the publication’s lead author Carl Imhoff, Electric Infrastructure Market Sector manager at PNNL. “It’s important we carefully leverage this next round of investments in smart grid to the greatest extent possible as we continue to transform our national electric infrastructure.”