Department of Energy

New DOE Reports on Smart Grid Technologies Seek to Promote Innovation, Privacy and Access

October 5, 2010

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Washington, D.C. - In order to implement recommendations made in the Federal Communications Commission's National Broadband Plan, the Department of Energy released two reports today on important policy issues raised by Smart Grid technologies that can promote innovation, cut costs for consumers and modernize our electrical grid. Each report completes a public-information-gathering process begun earlier this year by the Department.

DOE General Counsel Scott Blake Harris said, "These reports will allow the Department to better inform a dialogue with state and federal officials as they implement and deploy Smart Grid technologies that will help create good-paying jobs, save consumers money and encourage rapid growth in renewable energies like wind and solar."

The first, Data Access and Privacy Issues Related to Smart Grid Technologies focuses on how legal and regulatory regimes are evolving to protect consumer privacy and choice while promoting the growth of innovative energy-management services and technologies that rely on detailed energy-usage data. It found there is considerable consensus that flexibility and consumer education will be critical to the successful adoption and deployment of Smart Grid technologies like advanced metering.

In addition, it found that to protect privacy, consumers should be able to choose whether to affirmatively opt in to any non-utility, third-party use of their energy-usage data through a secure and trustworthy process. Flexibility and education were also found to be critical to making Smart Grid widely successful. It is important for consumers to understand the long-term benefits of these technologies, like lowering energy bills. Finally, there was consensus that no one technology or implementation schedule will serve the needs of all consumers.

The second, Communications Requirements of Smart Grid Technologies examines how the communications needs of utilities and the electrical grid are likely to evolve as Smart Grid technologies become more widely used. This report recommends that to improve overall coordination, utilities and other Smart Grid constituents should be represented on key federal industry committees that address communications- and network-related security and reliability issues.

The FCC's National Broadband Plan issued last spring called for DOE to study the privacy and access implications of Smart Grid technologies, and how they were likely to affect the communications needs of utilities. DOE issued two Requests for Information and held public meetings to inform these reports.

Both reports and additional information are availableĀ on the GC's Smart Grid Reports page.

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