Electricity has a bright future as a clean and efficient source of energy. Significant progress is possible on further improving the efficiency of the electric grid as the US electric system is transformed to a smart electric grid. At the center of the evolution of the smart electric grid is the introduction of new technology at the customer meter, as well as the distribution and transmission system level. This technological innovation has required that the road map to a smart electric grid become a partnership of electric utilities and technology companies. Unsurprisingly, the introduction of this new technology has presented new legal, policy and regulatory challenges for state and federal utility regulators, include concerns about customer data privacy.
In 2010, the IEE launched its smart grid initiative when it was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for $450,000. The work of the IEE Smart Grid team is ongoing and we highlight some of our recent research in the paragraphs below:
THE FUTURE OF UTILITIES: THE UTILITIES OF THE FUTURE
In 2015 the Smart Grid team collaborated with a group of international researchers on a new book exploring the Utility of the Future. The book, edited by Fereidoon Sioshansi, the President of Menlo Energy Economics, examined the rapid technological advancements plus falling costs of distributed energy resources and how it is turning an increasing number of consumers into prosumers, eroding utility revenues and threatening the historical business model. Our team authored a chapter on the "Distributed Utility: Conflicts and Opportunities Between Incumbent Utilities, Suppliers, and Emerging New Entrants." Student authors included Taylor L. Curtis (JD/MELP '15), Marc de Konkoly Thege (MERL '15), Daniel Sauer (MELP '15), and Matthew Roche (JD'16). You can find more information on the book here.
A SMARTER, GREENER GRID
In 2014, Professor Kevin Jones and David Zoppo (JD 2013) published their new book with Praeger which examines the five environmental pathways for a smart electric grid to help mitigate climate change. The book includes research contributions from twenty-one student members of the IEE's Smart Grid Project. According to John D. McDonald, P.E., Director Technology Strategy and Policy Development for GE Energy Management - Digital Energy, "The success of the 'smarter, grid' depends on technology, industry standards, and policy development. The application of digital technology, integrated into interoperable solutions that address the business needs of electric utilities, is not enough. The strongest driver for investment is policy, particularly with respect to the environment. A Smarter, Greener Grid addresses all key drivers very effectively, particularly the nexus of digital technology and the environment."
More information about "A Smarter, Greener Grid"
Smart Grid Case Studies
The Smart Grid Research Project utilized case study research to examine: What legal, regulatory and other policy changes can best ensure that Smart Grid implementation in the US improves reliability, enhances consumer value, and meets our clean energy goals? Below are links to all of the case studies that we have completed to date.
- Commonwealth Edison
- Central Vermont Public Service Company
- Pecan Street Project
- Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
- Salt River Project
- San Diego Gas and Electric
Implementation of Smart Grid Technologies in the European Union
An additional research focus of the IEE's Smart Grid project is developing case studies on implementation of smart grid technologies in the European Union. The Smart Grid Project has focused on policy approaches in Germany, Denmark, Italy and the UK. Information on the technical, legal, and policy aspects of diverse smart grid projects across the EU will allow us to make interesting and insightful comparisons with smart grid projects in the U.S. Researching how technologies and policies related to efficiency and demand response, integration of renewables, and electric vehicle infrastructure development can successfully lead to progress on climate change mitigation will give us deeper insight on how to use new technologies to both develop a more efficient electric system, as well as, make progress on reducing global greenhouse gas emission.
Presentation to the American Public Power Association - November 8, 2011
Listen to Professor Kevin Jones discuss smart grid technology, demand response and customer privacy on WNYC
Contact the Smart Grid Team
For more information about our Smart Grid Project you can contact:
Kevin Jones, PhD
Director, Institute for Energy and the Environment
Professor of Energy Technology and Policy