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Both regulators and utilities are interested in the development of rational technology implementation plans that provide prudent but necessary approaches for meeting their grid modernization needs over time. To do so requires holistic strategies for the deployment of advanced grid capabilities to effectively address the increased level of complexity and uncertainty presented by technological evolution, policy shifts, and changing customer expectations.

Grid architecture is an emerging discipline concerned with grid structure and the development of coherent grid designs. When applied early in the planning process it can help to address system complexity and minimize unwanted consequences. In the latest issue of IEEE’s Power & Energy Magazine, I authored an article describing how the U.S. Department of Energy is working with state regulators and utilities to apply grid architecture in their grid modernization planning processes in a way that provides a consistent set of expectations across their respective domains.

The article highlights the three key principles of grid architecture: coordination, scalability, and layering. Coordination is the process that enables a set of decentralized elements to cooperate to solve a common problem. It leads to an understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of all participants in grid operations, including an understanding of their information sharing requirements. Scalability is the ability of a system to accommodate an expanding number of endpoints without the need to undertake significant rework of the grid design. When implemented properly, it can lead to the effective management of local and system optimization requirements. Finally, layering involves putting to use fundamental system capabilities to serve a variety of applications through well-developed interfaces. Grid architecture shows how to layer core system components, such as information management, sensing, and communications systems, that can then serve as a platform to enable current and envisioned functions. Layering aims to remove the traditional siloes that present significant system integration challenges.

Click the link to the full article, which expands on grid architecture as an approach to consider the set of structural requirements fundamental to the proper planning of the future electric grid,