Grid Modernization Resolution Passed at CSG National Conference
During our 2012 national conference last December in Austin, a policy resolution was passed promoting smart grid and grid modernization efforts at CSG. The resolution sets up a general framework of important components that should be considered by states when discussing grid modernization initiatives as well as encouraging additional educational outreach work to CSG's membership and interaction with other sister organizations on behalf of states.
There can be some confusion over the use of "smart grid" as it can be both a descriptive and all-encompassing term. When initial policy discussions began circulating around 2007 at the federal level and by the electric power industry, smart grid meant different things to different people. For some advocacy or policy groups it meant promoting "smart meters" which provide two-way communication between customers and an electric company; others extolled grid modernization for promoting plug-in electric vehicles, improved integration of renewables, or the energy efficiency potential it could provide to effectively manage power loads and demand on the grid. For example, one large utility - AEP- employs a technology called "Volt/Var" which can effectively optimize the voltage on a distribution line between the electricity's point of origin and the customer to reduce energy demand and a customer's power bill. The genesis of the smart grid/grid modernization movement was a recognition that the U.S. was increasingly transitioning to a more digital economy and a modern grid would better utilize telecommunications and information technology infrastructure to enhance reliability and efficiency within the electric delivery system.
Specifically, the resolution passed in Austin offers numerous findings highlighting the unique roles that states have in setting regulatory policy to help modernize and improve the electric grid. It goes on to cite numerous economic and reliability benefits associated with advanced smart meters and the role that grid modernization can play to reduce harmful air pollutants to help meet Clean Air regulatory limits. Consequently, policies that reduce energy demand can also result in the reduction in rates recovered by utilities for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance of the distribution and transmission system, and the resolution suggests that such policies be conducted in a cost-effective manner. Lastly, it directs CSG to encourage states to evaluate the benefits that can be achieved with grid modernization efforts based on each state’s unique characteristics and it directs CSG to work with numerous stakeholder organizations to provide educational opportunities to learn about smart grid deployment with appropriate rate-recovery mechanisms for electric utilities.
Part of CSG's directive in the resolution is to provide educational opportunities for our members and conduct outreach with other stakeholders like state energy officials. Last April, CSG held a webinar on cybersecurity issues associated with smart grid development and be on the lookout for future venues and forums where we'll explore other components in the complex world of grid modernization.