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DOE Takes Steps to Implement the National Broadband Plan

May 11, 2010 - 12:54pm

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The Department of Energy has announced that it is taking steps to implement energy-related recommendations included in the National Broadband Plan, released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in March. The plan included recommendations on a wide range of topics from expanding internet access to modernizing health information to integrating broadband technologies with the Smart Grid. DOE is taking the lead in assessing best practices for providing consumers access to energy data, along with studying the communications requirements of electric utilities to help inform federal Smart Grid policy.

As part of the process of implementing these recommendations, the Department today issued two Requests for Information (RFI) and will host a series of public meetings over the summer to bring stakeholders and the American people into the process.

“The Department of Energy and the private sector are investing billions of dollars to modernize our electrical system, implement Smart Grid technologies nationally, and accelerate energy innovations in America’s homes and businesses,” said DOE General Counsel Scott Blake Harris. “The information we gather as part of this process will inform our policies in the years ahead, ensuring that broadband and communications technologies continue to play a critical role in helping the country achieve its clean energy goals.”

The Smart Grid has the potential to improve electricity reliability and security, increase energy efficiency and limit peak demand, reduce transmission congestion, allow for the broader integration of renewable energy, and empower consumers to reduce their energy use by providing real-time energy use data.

For the Smart Grid to be successful, consumers must have confidence that their energy use and personal information is adequately protected. The first RFI - Implementing the National Broadband Plan by Empowering Consumers and the Smart Grid: Data Access, Third Party Use, and Privacy - seeks comments on ongoing federal, state, and private efforts to protect consumer energy use data. As Smart Grid programs are rolled out across the country, utilities and their consumers will need to reach agreements on how detailed energy data should be collected, reported, managed, shared and disclosed in a way that allows utilities to maximize their investments in the Smart Grid while continuing to respect consumers’ privacy and security. This RFI will help to collect information, open a dialogue on how best to achieve that balance, and form the basis for best practices that can be distributed to states, public utility
commissions, and others. The full RFI is available here.

The second RFI will allow the Department to study the present and future communications needs of electric utilities as Smart Grid technologies are deployed more broadly across the country. Additionally, DOE will seek information about the types of networks and communications services that may be used for modernizing the grid or implementing Smart Grid applications, which can include a range of private and public networks. The full RFI - Implementing the National Broadband Plan by Studying the Communications Requirements of Electric Utilities to Inform Federal Smart Grid Policy – is available here.

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