The Smart Grid, Broadband and Climate Change

On August 25, the Federal Communications Commission held a National Broadband Plan workshop focused on broadband and communications infrastructure potentially transformative role in meeting our national energy, environmental, and transportation goals, including energy independence, greenhouse gas emissions reductions and clean energy generation. Nick Sinai, the Energy and Environment Director for the FCC's National Broadband Taskforce, led the discussion. The first panel explored smart grid technology. A second panel addressed broadband and climate change.

Wordle created from this workshop's transcript:

Eric Lightner, the Director of the Federal Smart Grid Task Force at the Department of Energy, helped define the smart grid as "an enabling platform that integrates the latest digital and information technologies into the nation's electric delivery network for enhanced operational intelligence and connectivity throughout all application areas." Smart grid functions include:

  • Enabling Informed Participation by Customers
  • Accommodating All Generation and Storage Options
  • Enabling New Products, Services, and Markets
  • Providing the Power Quality for the Range of Needs
  • in the 21st Century
  • Optimizing Asset Utilization and Operating Efficiently
  • Addressing Disturbances -Automated Prevention, Containment, and Restoration
  • Operating Resiliently Against Physical and Cyber Attacks and Natural Disasters

Lightner reported that broadband accelerates building a smart grid infrastructure:

  • Broadband linking smart meter networks to utility control centers for home energy monitoring/management applications (demand response, charging/discharging of PEVs, etc.)
    • Efficiently using an integrated broadband/smart grid infrastructure to facilitate connectivity for multiple services and applications; installing broadband conduits while upgrading and/or constructing transmission and distribution lines
    • Broadband providing smart grid monitoring and management capabilities by linking all sensors, controls, and devices on transmission and distribution grid
    • Broadband providing middle-mile connectivity to all localities to enable nationwide, interoperable communications and control of the nation's electricity system
    • Broadband providing high speed/capacity needed for robust cyber security measures

Dean Prochaska -- the National Coordinator for Smart Grid Conformance at the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- spoke to NIST's responsibility "to coordinate development of a framework that includes protocols and model standards for information management to achieve interoperability of smart grid devices and system." NIST is currently late in Phase 1 or a three phrase process, currently identifying a set of existing consensus standards to developing a roadmap to fill gaps.

GE's Mark Dudzinski spoke to the benefits of the smart grid including optimization of demand, delivery, assets, reliability, and management.

Henry Jones, the Chief Scientist at SmartSynch, talked about the value of using commercial wireless networks for smart electric meters.

Gridpoint's Joby Lafky talked about the importance of the smart grid and broadband as America adopts electric vehicles. He smart charging:

  • Manages the one-way flow of energy
  • Allows drivers to set parameters
  • Balances grid & driver needs via sophisticated software
  • Enables adaptive management:
    • Delay/slow during peak demand
    • Increase with availability of renewable energy

He said management opportunities include:

Load Shifting: Time based management shifts charging behavior into
non-peak periods. Demand valleys can be filled by scheduling charging around a central time.

Renewable Integration: Based on a live wind or solar signal, charging can be synchronized with the availability of renewable energy

System Regulation: Following an AGC signal, the charging load can be dynamically
increase or reduced according to grid needs.

Spinning Reserves: The flow of energy can be rapidly slowed or stopped, creating capacity in response to an unexpected power disruption

Economic Dispatch: Following a real-time price signal allows energy economics to determine charging behavior

Load Shaping: Following an signal or schedule, charging load can be dynamically shaped according to grid needs

By Kevin Taglang.