Fed, state regulators convene dialogue on smart grid

Washington, D.C., Feb. 15, 2008 — State and federal regulators announced they will convene a collaborative dialogue on facilitating the transition to a smart electric grid.

The collaborative project will be co-chaired by commissioner Suedeen Kelly of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and commissioner Frederick Butler of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. Butler also is first vice president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC).

The smart grid concept involves automating the electric grid. This may be achieved by outfitting the grid with smart controls, two-way communications systems, and sensors. It has the potential to reduce power consumption through demand response, facilitate grid connection to intermittent power stations and distributed generation projects, enable storage of electricity, and improve grid reliability.

“This is an important step in helping to translate the tremendous benefits from the revolution in information technology to our nation’s power system,” FERC chairman Joseph T. Kelliher said. “Meeting our future energy needs requires new generation and transmission capacity, demand response and conservation and efficiency. This is an excellent opportunity for us to work with our state colleagues on an important emerging issue, and I am pleased that commissioner Kelly has agreed to lead this effort on behalf of FERC.”

“This dialogue will give us an avenue to seek ways to reverse the under-investment in advanced technology applications for our power generation and transmission systems,” Kelly said. “Our nation’s electricity needs continue to grow dramatically, and we can address our needs in an efficient, environmentally conscious and consumer-friendly way by focusing on the smart grid.”

“Developing the smart grid will help modernize our electricity delivery system and may empower consumers with the means to take more control over their energy consumption,” said NARUC president Marsha Smith. “As we face growing demand and rising electricity prices, we must make the grid as efficient as possible. Doing so requires a strong working relationship with our federal colleagues and we are excited to participate in this important collaborative.”

“State regulators are heavily invested in this issue because we stand closest to the ratepayers who will benefit from the smart grid,” Butler said. “It is important that we work closely with our federal counterparts and this collaborative effort will provide all of us with a venue to move forward.”

The Smart Grid Collaborative dialogue constitutes the third such collaborative effort between FERC and NARUC. State and federal energy regulators also participate in dialogues on demand response and competitive procurement.

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