Locke, Chu Announce Significant Steps in Smart Grid Development

WASHINGTON—U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced significant progress that will help expedite development of a nationwide smart electric power grid.

A smart grid would replace the current, outdated system and employ real-time, two-way communication technologies to allow users to connect directly with power suppliers. The development of the grid will create jobs and spur the development of innovative products that can be exported. Once implemented, the smart grid is expected to save consumers money and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by improving efficiency and spurring the use of renewable energy sources.

Before it can be constructed, however, there needs to be agreement on standards for the devices that will connect the grid.

“President Obama has made a smart electrical grid a key element of his plan to lower energy costs for consumers, achieve energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Locke said. “Today, we took a significant step toward developing the standards necessary to realize the smart grid vision.”

After chairing a meeting of industry leaders at the White House, Locke and Chu announced the first set of standards that are needed for the interoperability and security of the smart grid and $10 million in Recovery Act funds provided by the Energy Department to the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology to support the development of interoperability standards.

Chu also announced that based on feedback from the public and smart grid stakeholders, the Department of Energy is increasing the maximum award available under the Recovery Act for smart grid programs. The maximum award available under the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program will be increased from $20 million to $200 million and for the Smart Grid Demonstration Projects from $40 million to $100 million. In making awards, the DOE will ensure that funding is provided to a diversity of applications, including small projects as well as end-to-end larger projects.

“The smart grid is an urgent national priority that requires all levels of government as well as industry to cooperate,” Chu said. “I’m pleased that industry leaders stepped forward today and are working with us to get consensus. We still have much to do, but the ultimate result will be a much more efficient, flexible power grid and the opportunity to dramatically increase our use of renewable energy.”

Today’s meeting was designed to encourage industry executives to work to expedite the adoption of standards in advance of a major two-day, public standards workshop tomorrow in metro Washington, D.C.

The initial batch of 16 National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-recognized interoperability standards announced today will help ensure that software and hardware components from different vendors will work together seamlessly, while securing the grid against disruptions.

Spanning areas ranging from smart customer meters to distributed power generation components to cybersecurity, the list of standards is based on the consensus expressed by participants in the first public Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Interim Roadmap workshop, April 28-29 in Reston, Va. A full list of the announced standards is attached below.

The DOE also announced that the $10 million it received to support the development of interoperability standards under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been transferred to NIST to help accelerate their efforts to coordinate these critical standards.

Public comments on the initial standards will be accepted for 30 days after their upcoming publication in the Federal Register. The date of publication will be posted on www.nist.gov/smartgrid.

Comments may be submitted to smartgrid@nist.gov.

The DOE is the lead federal agency responsible for smart grid development. Creating national standards is a critical part of that process. Coordinating these standards and achieving industry buy in is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This meeting is part of an aggressive three-phase plan recently launched by the Commerce Department to expedite standards development.

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