Report of the Demand-Side Resources & Smart Grid Committee

Energy Law Journal, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Report of the Demand-Side Resources & Smart Grid Committee


This report summarizes a selection of legislative, regulatory, and judicial developments at the federal and state level in the areas of Smart Grid, demand response, and energy efficiency during 2010.*

I. SMART GRID DEVELOPMENTS

A. Federal Activity

1. National Institute of Standards and Technology and FERC

In 2010, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) took steps to fulfill a joint statutory mandate to develop Smart Grid interoperability standards. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA),1 which lays out the policy of the United States with regard to modernization of the nation's electricity transmission and distribution system, mandates the development of a framework to achieve interoperability of Smart Grid devices and systems, including protocols and model standards for information management.2 The EISA directs the NIST to coordinate the development of this framework and directs the FERC, once it is satisfied that the NIST's work has led to "sufficient consensus" on interoperability standards, to "institute a rulemaking proceeding to adopt such standards and protocols."3

In January 2010, the NIST released a framework and roadmap that identified a number of standards that are applicable to the ongoing development of the Smart Grid.4 In October 2010, after further discussion with stakeholders and an analysis of the standards' cyber security protections, the NIST identified five suites of standards that it stated were ready for consideration by regulatory authorities.5

The standards and their functions are:

* IEC 61970 and IEC 61968: Providing a Common Information Model (CIM) necessary for exchanges of data between devices and networks, primarily in the transmission (IEC 61970) and distribution (IEC 61968) domains;

* IEC 61850: Facilitating substation automation and communication as well as interoperability through a common data format;

* IEC 60870-6: Facilitating exchanges of information between control centers;

* IEC 62351: Addressing the cyber security of the communication protocols defined by the preceding IEC standards.6

The FERC responded to the NIST announcement by stating that while it had made no determination yet on whether "sufficient consensus" exists for these standards, it was establishing a docket, RM11-2-000, for a possible rulemaking proceeding pursuant to EISA section 1305(d).7 The FERC stated that it would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for comment before adopting any of the five suites of standards identified by the NIST.8 The FERC stated that while the EISA does not authorize the FERC to require compliance with the final standards, it might consider requiring compliance with the standards under its Federal Power Act authorities.9 In November 2010, the FERC convened a technical conference on Smart Grid Interoperability Standards and in December 2010 the FERC announced a planned technical conference in January 2011 to obtain further information to aid the FERC's determination of whether there is "sufficient consensus" that the five NIST families of standards are ready for FERC consideration in a rulemaking proceeding.10

2. Federal Communications Commission

a. National Broadband Plan

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has prescribed timelines for state and government agencies to process applications for authority to construct and attach wireless communications, or broadband, equipment on public utility towers.11 The FCC has gone further in issuing a document entitled, "Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan" (National Broadband Plan),12 which details steps to increase access by network providers to poles, conduits, ducts, and rights-of-way. Under the National Broadband Plan, the FCC intends to set: (1) lower and more uniform rates for pole attachments; (2) a timeline for each step of the pole attachment process, including dispute resolution, to be backed up with damage award authority if so enacted by Congress; (3) procedures for improved dissemination of information on the availability of poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way; and (4) a joint task force with state, tribal, and local policymakers to provide guidelines for rates and terms and conditions of access to public rights-of-way.

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