EIA to Expand Net Metering, Smart Grid Data Tracking

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is expected within weeks to issue a decision about the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) proposal to significantly expand its tracking and updates on the deployment of smart grid technologies, a move intended to promote use of technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase electricity efficiency.

Smart grid industry sources say the data collected can help evaluate the implementation of energy conservation programs and the integration of low-carbon energy sources into the power transmission system. Last month, the Obama administration announced the formation of a subcommittee on smart grid under the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy to work on developing an overarching policy framework for the deployment of the smart grid as a linchpin of its overall clean energy goals.

Since the changes were first proposed in 2009, EIA has undergone extensive public comment and review, the EIA official says. In July, the changes were submitted for OMB review, with a determination from the OMB expected in early to mid-September. If approved, the EIA will make changes to its survey system in preparation to begin distributing new surveys in January and collecting the new data in February, with the monthly data being disseminated starting sometime in the spring.

This monthly data will be used for a host of purposes, according to a May 2010 supporting document EIA released with its proposed changes. The uses include “[t]o answer queries from the Congress, other Federal and State agencies, the electric power industry, and the general public,” to evaluate rates and competition levels, and to include in forecasting and modeling systems.

The EIA also proposes to begin collecting data in its monthly report on the number of energy consumers with net metering arrangements. Under such arrangements, the energy that consumers generate “behind the meter” is deducted from their energy consumption. As part of tracking net metering, an official says the EIA will for the first time collect information (both yearly and monthly) on how the electricity is generated (with categories for solar photovoltaic cells, biomass, combined heat and power and “other”) and the capacity of such resources, giving EIA a much greater level of detail than it has ever had before on such generation, the official says.

A smart grid industry source says this measurement could be very important in establishing operating and evaluation procedures for states with renewable portfolio standards (RPS). This information provided by EIA could help states establish a review process to validate that the RPS is being met, the source says, and create the time window when a renewable energy generator is evaluated. Because the amount of energy a resource such as a solar photovoltaic cell creates during a given year varies, the monthly data could help frame an appropriate time window for evaluation, the source adds.

 Source: Carbon Control News


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