California smart grid legislation advances


Welcome to the first smart energy West Coast news update – a weekly column bringing the latest news and developments in smart energy in the West Coast region of the U.S. The FERC’s 2008 demand response and advanced metering survey records the West Coast – as represented by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) region – as having an AMI penetration of 2.1 percent, less than half the 4.7 percent national average. However, this is sure to have increased significantly, moving the region up the rankings, with the large scale rollouts under way, in particular in California.

At the same time the provision of stimulus funding for smart grids has focused attention on this complementary technology. While the details of how the funding is to be allocated are still to be clarified – and some important announcements are expected in the coming days – a key advance, strongly argued by among others California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a letter to Energy Secretary Steve Chu, has been an increase in the funding cap for projects to $200 million (from the originally proposed $20 million). This will enable much larger scale projects to be implemented.

Smart grid legislation approved
Meanwhile a milestone has been reached with the pending smart grid legislation in California, with the unanimous approval on Monday, June 1 of the Bill (SB 17) by the state Senate. The Bill will now be heard in the Assembly.

SB 17 seeks to establish the deployment of smart grid technology as the policy of the state. Under the Bill by July 2010 the California Public Utilities Commission would be required to determine, in consultation with the Energy Commission, the ISO and other stakeholders, the requirements for a smart grid deployment plan. Then all utilities would be required to submit their smart grid deployment plans by July 2011.

“SB 17 will move California to the forefront of our nation’s smart grid technology deployment,” said the Bill’s author Senator Alex Padilla in a statement, adding: “SB 17 will allow California to be more competitive when pursuing federal smart grid grants.”

Made in California
Pleasanton, CA-based real time information system provider DC Systems announced that its RTRIG is the first RIG/DPG (Remote Intelligent Gateway/Data Processing Gateway) platform approved by the California ISO that is made in California for California. The RTRIG is based on the open architecture Windows environment with a wide array of intuitive, graphical tools, and it conforms to all data processing, communications, and security requirements, including advanced functions for Automatic Generation Control (AGC).