Smart Grid Provisions of Stimulus Bill Stir Debate


As Congress prepares to direct $4.5 billion from the stimulus package to smart grid and smart meter technologies, a debate is raging over the criteria to be placed on the funds.  The current version of the House bill says that in order to receive funds, the smart technologies must use Internet-based networking standards or other open protocols and standards (if available and appropriate). 

If enacted, this requirement will permit utilities to mix and match equipment from a variety of manufacturers, instead of being tied to just one proprietary technology.  While this is probably an overly simplistic analogy, it brings to mind the difference between being able to use a standard electric charger for all cell phones, or being forced to buy a new one every time you get a new phone.  It seems superficially, that having a more open and standardized protocol for our nation’s smart grid makes sense. 

However, without a technical understanding of the state of this industry, it is hard for us to intelligently opine on which is the best course.  Either way, it is important that we keep in mind that the goal of the bill is not to ensure that every company has equal footing going forward– but is to do what’s best for our electricity grid.  As long as that goal is kept in mind in drafting the final legislation, we are agnostic as to which specific criteria is set.

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One Comment

  1. I can’t think of too many situations where we would be better off with closed standards, and without knowing the intricacies I am happy to hear the federal funding proviso. The IP stack is well known and relatively speaking, mature. Leveraging this really does make the most sense here.

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