“Clean Skies,” the energy and environment online network, posted a news report on Smart Grid yesterday that included scenes and interviews from last week’s NEMA Smart Grid Technology Day at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. As the report notes, the showcase for advanced electrical equipment and devices — the second such NEMA-FERC demo collaboration in two years — was well attended by FERC commissioners and employees.
The Clean Skies report observed that unlike other energy policy issues, Smart Grid has the support of both parties in Congress, as well as of the president. But the report also pointed out a number of hurdles facing Smart Grid in the coming years, especially for electric utilities. For example, how can the govenment encourage electric utilities to purchase new "smart" technology, and assure them that they will be able to recover costs for new investments? How to structure a system so that utilities can make money while essentially curtailing energy use?
Despite these concerns, the Clean Skies report emphasizes the importance of forging ahead with modernizing the grid. Electricity demand will no doubt start to climb in the coming years as electric vehicles hit our highways. Not only will Smart Grid create a more reliable grid (even in times of high usage), it will help utilities and consumers conserve energy by making them smarter and more informed. Smart Grid will also better enable utilities to add renewable energy sources to the grid — and the incorporation of energy storage will allow utilities to better control intermittent energy supplies from wind and solar power.