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Smart Grid

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Smart Grid is a network of technologies providing real-time two-way communication that delivering electricity from ulitities to consumers.

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Contents

Overview

The Smart Grid is a network of technologies providing real-time two-way communication that moves data and delivers electricity from ulitities to consumers.

Smart meters are remote communication devices designed for the smart grid application. These devices have the potential to manage electricity consumption remotely, as well as other devices found on the Smart Grid (e.g. washing machine, water heaters, light fixtures, etc.).

Benefit

Below are some areas that determined to be benefits of adopting the smart grid and its techologies:

  • Consumer

Consumers will be able to view how much electricity they use, when it is being used and its cost to them.  Consumers will also be able to add electricity to the system through their own wind, solar, or other onsite generation and sell surplus electricity back to the grid.

  • Environmental

Consumers are able to calculate and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Smart appliances (e.g. dishwasher) can be programmed to run when electricity demand is lower which results in efficient grid operation.  More renewable engery sources are created and tapped with consumers selling their surplus electricity created from "green" sources (e.g. water, wind, sun, etc.) back to the grid.

  • Workforce

New jobs are created related to the smart grid and supporting techonolgies.

  • National Security

The smart grid will be able to detect and isolate power outages.  This allows these outages to be contained and help prevent rolling blackouts.

  • Electric Power System

Overall, the adoption of the smart grid is suppose to create an efficient transmission of electricity with quick restoration of power due to outages.  Reduced operation and management costs, lower electricty rates and improved security are other areas of improvement to be seen with the smart grid implementation.

Privacy Concerns

  • Smart Meters

There is currently no standard for security, yet already the regular meters have been replaced with smart meters at consumer homes.  There has been evidence that there are serious security issues with the smart meters and that they are hackable.

  • Smart Appliances

The idea of smart appliances is that household appliances (e.g. dishwasher) are able to communicate with the smart grid and indicate how much electricity it consumes and the time in which it consumes the most energy.  This use creates for an energy efficient household.  However, the potential uses of this communication could expand beyond simple energy consumption.  The combination of smart meter and radio frequency identification (RFID) communication could create surveillance within the household. Many products in the house already have RFID tags that contain information about the product (e.g. clothes, dvds, etc.).  Access to and collection of this information could cause you to unknowingly divilge your purchasing and daily routine to the government, businesses or hacker with access to your electricity "records".

  • National Security

With the security holes found in the smart grid and smart meters, the ease to shut down the smart grid creates a real threat to the nation and its economy.

Standards & Laws

  • Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA)[1]

EISA created the smart grid so to modernize the U.S. electricity grid thereby improving its reliability
and efficiency.

ARRA allocated money for the building of the smart grid system in the U.S.

  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Policy Statement regarding smart grid systems and devices[2]
  • National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Project[3]
  • 2nd Draft of the Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy and Requirements[4]

Cases

Flores v. Pacific Gas and Electric

The lawsuit alleges that the "Smart" Meter system installed by PG&E improperly overcharged a Bakersfield, California resident for the consumption of electricity.  The attorney for this lawsuit is looking to change the status of the case to a class action lawsuit.

Cordts v. Oncor Electric Delivery Company, LLC

A class action lawsuit that alleges that the "Smart" Meter systems installed by Oncor are improperly overcharging Texas citizens for the consumption of electricity.

References

  1. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.110hr6
  2. http://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/2009/071609/E-3.pdf
  3. http://www.nist.gov/smartgrid/
  4. http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/nistir-7628/draft-nistir-7628_2nd-public-draft.pdf

External Links

Related Resources on FindLaw

Related Blogs on FindLaw


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