Grid Modernization

The White House Framework for Grid Modernization

Yesterday, the White House released its keenly anticipated policy blueprint "A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future", at an event at the White House.  As one of those whose input the report's authors solicited and someone who has argued that modernizing our electricity architecture is vital to the entire clean energy project, I am pleased that the document is now public.

Perhaps the greatest value of the Administration's Framework for the future of the grid is that it addresses the many topics related to the grid and commits the Administration to a path forward on all of them, a path based on considerable stakeholder input.  As NEC senior advisor Phil Weiser put it at yesterday's event, the framework is certainly not the beginning of the end of modernizing our electricity architecture, in Churchill's phrase, but it may be the end of the beginning.

The Framework sets forth a number of important priorities and pathways, all of them topics that our Electricity 2.0 project has addressed as well.  These include "Unlocking Innovation in the Electricity Sector" through open standards, demand management and perhaps most critically, preventing anti-competitive behavior.  In the words of the framework: "Ensuring options for consumers can catalyze innovation and help to empower them."

The report also has an entire chapter on a key priority of Electricity 2.0, "Empowering Consumers and Enabling Informed Decisionmaking".  As I have long argued, there is a strong pent up desire on the part of the American people to play a role in transitioning to clean energy but they have lacked the tools to do so.   The framework very explicitly endorses the idea of empowering consumers with information and the opportunity to exercise choice.

The framework also properly focuses on security.  Modernizing our electricity architecture means creating more reslience in the network, redundancy and safeguards against catastrophic failure.  Information technology and an upgrading of the architecture to manage variable generation--linked to intelligent demand will be key to achieiving the clean energy promise.

At yesterday's event, Energy Secretary Chu talked about the incredible innovation that has occurred at the edge of the grid-- as in LED lighting, electronics and solar panels--in sharp contrast to a system of transmission and distribution that Edison, Tesla and Westinghouse would recognize.  Going forward, it will be critical to open up portions of the network that those pioneers launched to a richer ecosystem of modern day innovators to bring the electricity backbone into the 21st Century. 

Also at the event, John Holdren, the President's Science Advisor and Aneesh Chopra, the CTO of the government, spoke about the critical role that grid modernization must play in moving America toward a clean energy fuure.

All in all, it was an excellent day of discussion around a very important policy document.

We are very fortunate that later this week on Thursday at 12:30PM at NDN, Nick Sinai of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, one of those who worked closely on the Framework, will be participating in our Clean Energy Solutions event at NDN where he will talk about the Framework

Our event will also feature a number of other distinguished speakers and include a presentation by Verizon debuting an exciting new service in this space. 

Don't miss this important and very timely event.   RSVP here.

Obama Appoints Wellinghoff to Head FERC

From the White House Press Office yesterday:

Today, President Barack Obama announced that Jon Wellinghoff, currently serving as Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), will be designated as Chairman. 

This announcement, both welcome and expected, likely signals a new era in FERC's energy regulation. Wellinghoff is a visionary on grid issues, as demonstrated last November when he spoke at an NDN Green Project event in November entitled, "A Vision for a Modernized Electric Grid: Clean Infrastructure for a 21st Century Economy." 

Take a look:

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