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Smart Grid

Load as a Resource

Historically, grid operators tapped into voluntary load reduction as a last resort for keeping the lights on. But now, smart grid technologies and dynamic pricing mechanisms bring vastly greater potential for using load as a dispatchable resource. Effective implementation requires advanced technologies—and also foresight in creating programs, policies, and market mechanisms.

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Audrey Zibelman is co-founder and CEO of Viridity Energy, and formerly was chief operating officer at PJM. Chika Nwankpa is a professor and Director of the Center for Electric Power Engineering (CEPE) at Drexel University. Alain Steven is co-founder and executive vice president of strategy at Viridity Energy, and formerly was chief technology officer at PJM. Allen Freifeld is senior vice president of law and public policy at Viridity Energy, and formerly was a commissioner on the Maryland Public Service Commission. 

Integrating controllable demand into real-time, security constrained economic dispatch.

Security and the States

State commissions can select from a toolkit of regulatory approaches to promote desired utility cybersecurity behavior. One approach is to allow the industry to selfregulate, and another approach is to leave the job to the federal government. But sofar, neither the industry nor the federal government have developed and implemented adequate standards for securing the smart grid. States can play a constructive role—albeit perhaps not in the form of traditional regulation.

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Nancy Brockway is the principal of independent consultancy NBrockway & Associates. Previously she was a commissioner with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, and served on commission staffs in Massachusetts and Maine before that. Brockway acknowledges the insightful help of Alison Silverstein, but retains sole responsibility for errors and opinions.

The regulator’s role in promoting cybersecurity for the smart grid.

Rooftop Tsunami

A growing wave of rooftop PV projects is starting to look ominous to some utilities. Will lawmakers accept utilities’ warnings at face value—or will they suspect they’re crying wolf?

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Frontlines
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Transition to a PV World
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Keeping the lights on in a world of mushrooming solar rooftops requires several key technology and policy developments. During the 2012 EEI Annual Convention, panelists on a session titled “Distribution 2020: Implications of a Rapidly Evolving Distribution Grid,” offered several suggestions for managing the transition.

Technology requirements:

• Bi-directional smart grid

• New safety protocols

• Uniform interconnection standards

• Integrated distribution management systems (DMS)

Policy requirements:

• Focus incentives on installations in preferred locations

• Push the limits of demand response with direct load control

• Plan holistically—account for the total costs of distributed generation

• Apply formula rates to keep utilities whole

• Accelerate depreciation appropriately

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Michael T. Burr is Fortnightly’s editor-in-chief. Email him at burr@pur.com

Utilities sound the alarm as PV nears grid parity.