Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary in the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Department of Energy (DoE), gave an overview of where the DoE will be focussing its efforts as ARRA funding winds down.
Quantifying benefit of smart grid
In the past DOE provided incentives such as grants to encourage investment in synchrophasors, smart meter deployment, automated switches, and other smart-grid related technology and in training and education related to smart-grid. DoE's focus is now shifting to aggregating usage data to quantify some of the benefits of the smart grid investment such as peak reduction, improved realiability, and operational efficiency.
DoE has supported the Green Button program and estimates that currently 16 million consumers have access their electric power usage data via a Green Button service provided by their power utility. She expects a further 30+ million will be getting Green Button access soon. One of the very successful programs that DoE ran recently was the Apps for Energy competition. DoE offered $100,000 to software developers for the best new apps that help utility customers make the most of their Green Button electricity usage data. You can see the 56 winners listed here.
DoE is encouraging utilities to make more use of the data that smart meter provide because it can be used to dramatically improve distribution reliability. She mentioned that utilties are finding that smart meters enable them to detect outages before the first customer calls. Also smart meters can provide valuable data during disasters. She mentioned Alabama Power's use smart meters with Google Map to map power outages resulting from tornadoes.
She also mentioned intelliruptors, intelligent devices that makes power network self-healing. With these devices and without human intervention networks automatically reconfigure themselves to isolate a fault and to mimimize the number of customers who are affected.
Cyber security is a priority item for DoE. It is looking to information sharing and enabling tools for situational awareness to detect intrusions.
Standards are important for creating an open, competitive market for smart-grid related devices. Ms. Hoffman mentioned the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) specifically.
Some of the future focus areas for DoE includes asset optimiization and the application of synchrophasors for predictive analysis. In the future utilties will be performance driven which will require the collection of a avriety of data for grid performamce metrics.