Advocating for a smarter grid


In our previous article (Issue 4 2009, p 125), the nature and occupation of the GridWise Alliance (GWA) was outlined. In this article, we continue by describing specific actions taken that, in a large part, led to our current national focus and recognition of the smarter grid across federal and state proceedings, with a new emphasis on international issues.

Through our Legislative and Policy Group, we worked closely with Congress to craft language in both the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Members supplied Congressional staff with key recommendations that highlighted potential job creation benefits and the funding levels we felt would move the industry forward. Also, working with the Department of Energy (DOE), we developed key metrics to measure and track investment successes.

Many of our advocacy efforts were focused in Washington, DC, although we have also testified with state legislators and connected with many state utility commissioners and consumer advocates. In addition to Congressional member and staff briefings, we have worked with Congress and federal agencies to established forums to discuss broader issues, such as implementation requirements, consumer issues, state and federal policy and the establishment of interoperability standards.

The GWA was also the originator of GridWeek, held annually in Washington DC and co-sponsored by the DOE. The event was produced in planned orchestration with the DOE’s GridWise Architecture Council’s Grid-Interop, to ensure the first focused on policy, while the latter focused on technology.

In its inaugural year, the theme for GridWeek 2007 was to bring together diverse stakeholder groups who were working on grid modernization and help establish a common agenda for its advancement. It focused on legislative analysis to increase awareness on grid modernization and on the policy issues related to smart grid technology deployment.

In 2008, it grew substantially and attempted an international presence on the first day of the event. Its key message was to establish an annual meeting place for smart grid players and promote the North American smart grid agenda. Of course, this was the first major smart grid event conducted after the signing of EISA 2007. Much speculation occurred whether the authorizations within that act would be appropriated.

In 2009, it focused on state and regional policies that would implement the recent federal legislation advancing smart grids. Now that ARRA funded EISA, much speculation surrounded who would win the coveted DOE smart grid funding grants.

As we enter the 2010 season debating the issues on smart grid, the GWA decided to establish a truly international perspective on smart grid. Cosponsored with the DOE, the GWA will launch the 2010 GridWise Global Forum. This Forum will bring together international policy leaders, corporate leaders and innovators from around the globe to share their experiences with real smart grid deployments and visions for tomorrow’s smarter grid. The GWA has convened national and international stakeholder groups to develop the agenda for the Forum. The GridWeek event will continue focusing on a national agenda for a month following the Forum.

For more information visit

Terry Mohn, Vice Chair GWA