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October 15, 2010
NEM Upcoming Events

Please mark your calendar for NEM's Fall Leadership Roundtable on October 18-20, 2010, in Harrisburg, PA. The conference will take place at the Hilton Harrisburg on One North Second Street. You may register for the Fall Meeting in Harrisburg at this hotlink.

Our Annual Winter Executive Committee Meeting is scheduled for January 17-19, 2011, in Miami at the famous Doral Hotel and Resort. Many Thanks to Doug Marcille, Vice Chair of NEM’s Executive Committee and CEO of US Gas and Electric for hosting this upcoming Executive Committee Meeting.

DOE Report on Data Access and Privacy Issues Related to Smart Grid Technologies

DOE issued a report entitled, "Data Access and Privacy Issues Related to Smart Grid Technologies." The report is part of the federal government's effort to facilitate smart grid deployment and also in response to recommendations in FCC's National Broadband Plan.

The report states that, "In summary, however, DOE notes that consumer education about the benefits of Smart Grid and the use of Smart Grid technologies will be of significant important to the success of Smart Grid. The pace of deployment will also be important and should not outpace consumer education.

This is particularly true given that Smart Grid technologies can generate very detailed energy consumption information. Because of its detailed nature, such information should be accorded privacy protections – and the accord of these protections will do much to increase consumer acceptance of Smart Grid. While utilities need access to this energy consumption data for operational purposes, both residential and commercial consumers should be able to access their own energy consumption data and decide whether to grant access to third parties. In addition, the special circumstances of certain populations, such as rural, low-income, minority and elderly populations, must be considered in any Smart Grid deployment strategy.

States should also carefully consider the conditions under which consumers can authorize third-party access. Commenters to this proceeding generally agreed that these conditions should include a prohibition on disclosure of consumer data to third parties in the absence of affirmative consumer authorization, and that the authorization should specify the purposes for which the third party is authorized to use the data, the term of the authorization, and the means for withdrawing an authorization. Commenters also generally agreed that authorized third parties should be required to protect the privacy and security of consumer data and use it only for the purposes specified in the authorization, and that states should define the circumstances, conditions, and data that utilities should disclose to third parties.

Issues of third-party access for which consensus proved harder to achieve include how consumers should authorize third-party access and how (though not whether) utility liability should be limited when utilities are required to disclose data to authorized third parties, as well as applicable complaint procedures once third-party access has been authorized, and the specific data that utilities should be required to disclose to authorized third parties. In addition, commenters did not reach consensus on whether utilities could charge a fee for providing third- party access to consumer energy data, and whether authorized third-party service providers should be required to obtain further informed consent before disclosing such data. State certification requirements for third parties also remained an open issue."

The full text of Data Access and Privacy Issues Related to Smart Grid Technologies is available on the NEM Website.

DOE Report on Communications Requirements of Smart Grid Technologies

DOE issued a companion report to the Data Access and Privacy Issues report entitled "Communications Requirements of Smart Grid Technologies."

DOE's summary of recommendations are that, "the evolution toward a Smart Grid is a major technological change of national scope and communications systems are one of the critical technological foundations of this change. Indeed, even taken alone, the communications requirements of the Smart Grid promise to fundamentally change how the electricity network employs communications technologies. Thus, it is not surprising that technological changes of this scope would necessarily require reassessments of some of the federal processes related to the implementation of communications technologies, particularly those that are wireless, because of the relatively prominent role that wireless technologies are likely to play in the Smart Grid. As evident by the work of the OpenSG SG Communications Task Group and the record developed in this proceeding, the communications requirements for the Smart Grid continue to require careful consideration in internal federal government discussions related to spectrum management and emergency network operations support, and they should also be considered in federally sponsored committees (FACAs) made up of representatives from industry that address issues of spectrum management and communications network reliability.

Because wireless communications will play such a key role in the Smart Grid, within the auspices of the larger federal agency effort to identify additional spectrum for wireless broadband, DOE will seek to work with both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to review possibilities for spectrum access to accommodate Smart Grid needs, either through sharing frequencies with others users, leasing spectrum, or other alternatives. We note that, in order to conduct such a study, DOE will need additional input from the utility and communications industries to determine the spectrum requirements, including gaining a better understanding of the particular uses (e.g., mobile or fixed) for such spectrum.

Additionally, because the experience base with Smart Grid technologies and the particular communications applications for such technologies is still developing, DOE may consider establishing an online, interactive clearinghouse for Smart Grid communications technology applications, including leveraging the work already underway by the OpenSG SG Communications Task Group. This online clearinghouse – which may augment already existing government websites – would serve as a resource for utilities to share “lessons learned” in the Smart Grid context. In addition, it could include substantive information about the technologies (e.g., technology primers), as well as pointers to and information on existing federal programs (e.g., priority access) that may be helpful to utilities and their suppliers as they implement Smart Grid technologies."

The full text of Communications Requirements of Smart Grid Technologies is available on the NEM Website.

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Commission Guidance on Default Service Result Disclosure and Rate Calculation

Upon discussion by the stakeholder CHARGE group, the Commission issued guidance to the utilities on their disclosure of default service solicitation results and the creation of a default service rate calculation model. The Commission found that the electric utilities, "should release, for each procurement class, the weighted average winning price for each individual solicitation of the following products:

-full requirements (including the percentage of total load each full requirements tranche represents)
-alternative energy credits
-any other product types."

The releases should be made within fifteen calendar days of the close of each solicitation. The Commission requested that the electric utilities make available a default service rate calculation model. The electric utilities were urged to explain the methodology used to project or estimate any updateable or variable costs that comprise the calculation model. Auction results and the calculation model should be posted on the utility website. The full text of the Issuance is available on the NEM Website.

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