Tuesday, November 28, 2006
EPIC director Scott Anders wrote a guest editorial for the Smart Grid Newsletter, the leading national Smart Grid newsletter. The full text of the editorial follows.
Time for a Comprehensive California Smart Grid Strategy?
By Guest Editorial
Nov 28, 2006, 01:33
When you stand too close to a pointillist painting, you only see dots.As you step away, meaningful shapes emerge. Stand back far enough and the whole picture appears.
Assessing California’s progress toward a Smart Grid is much the same: You can grasp individual images but not the entire picture. California is making progress in a number of key areas, but decision makers have not yet connected all the dots to develop a comprehensive Smart Grid strategy.
King of the Load
Perhaps the best example of this is California’s “loading order.”This energy-planning policy directs California’s utilities to seek new energy resources in the following order:
·Energy efficiency and demand response
·Renewable energy and distributed generation
·Clean and efficient fossil-fired generation
The loading order has transformed the way the state conducts energy planning. Indeed, California has made great strides in achieving the component parts of the loading order. But no comprehensive framework has emerged to optimize these preferred resources.
Smart Grid Activities in California
California’s best known Smart Grid activity is advanced metering. By 2012, it is likely that California’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will have advance meters capable of two-way communications and the beginnings of an advanced communication network. In July of this year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved Pacific Gas & Electric’s plan to deploy advanced meters.
In a different proceeding in April 2006, the CPUC also adopted a regulatory framework to encourage broadband over power lines (BPL) in California.The decision strongly encourages California’s IOUs “to study BPL as a way to provide ‘smart grid’ applications to California consumers.”
California utilities are also embracing smart grid technologies and concepts.In addition to advanced metering they are deploying and demonstrating advanced technologies such as FACTS (Flexible Alternating Current Transmission System), distribution automation, and advanced flywheel storage.
A Strategy for Smart Grid
California has been a leader in adopting technologies and strategies necessary to implement a Smart Grid.For this, California regulators, legislators, and utilities should be lauded.But as one California regulator said at the recent San Diego Smart Grid Summit, regulatory agencies tend to deal with issues individually and in “silos.”
It may be time to take a few steps back to see the broader picture and examine the connections between the dots. To integrate existing efforts and chart future Smart Grid developments, regulators and legislators might consider three important next steps:
1.Develop a comprehensive Smart Grid vision for California that links current initiatives together and includes participation of a broad range of stakeholders.
2.Conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine if implementing this vision is broadly cost effective to the utilities and to society.
3.Where appropriate, develop a roadmap to implement the regulatory and technological changes necessary to achieve the vision.
Those three steps could help paint a brighter picture of California’s energy future.
Scott Anders is the Director of the Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC), the energy policy research center of the University of San Diego Law School.
© Copyright 2005 Center for Smart Energy