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White House Unveils National Smart Grid Strategy Framework

The Obama Administration has revealed four key pillars for enabling a next-generation power grid, including consumer empowerment and guarding cyber threats.

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The White House has unveiled a policy framework for a national smart grid strategy, core components of which are to secure the energy grid from cyber threats and improve data management and security so consumers have better access to information about their energy costs and consumption.

The 108-page report--"A Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future"--outlines in detail four aspects of smart-grid policy based on a foundation set up in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The subcommittee on Smart Grid of the National Science and Technology Council, Committee on Technology prepared the report.

Securing the U.S. power grid is one of four pillars the policy framework is based upon; the others are to enable cost-effective smart grid investments, unlock the potential for innovation in the electric sector, and empower consumers to make informed decisions, according to the report.

Enabling the U.S. energy industry to bring the nation's power grid into the digital age is one of the Obama administration's key technology goals. The White House in late 2009 unveiled $3.4 billion in grants to the industry as part of a stimulus package to develop and implement technologies such as smart meters, digital transformers, and automated power monitoring and management systems.

The policy report aims to set up a framework for implementing that technology efficiently, securing the connected power grid from cyber threats, and creating an energy framework that will put more control in the hands of consumers using energy.

To achieve security, the report proposes several policy actions. The first is to continue to develop open standards and guidelines by collaborating with the private sector companies that control much of the energy infrastructure. The report also recommends the implementation of performance measurements to advance cybersecurity-including risk management, regular evaluations, and ongoing monitoring.

Data management and security are key facets of the framework's pillar to empower consumers to make informed decisions about their power needs and consumption. The report proposes policy around data standards and requirements to make secure energy-consumption data available online to all customers as a better way to allow them to manage their own data.

To facilitate both data management and security, the White House also is suggesting policy allowing customers to permit third-party access to their data. This will facilitate single sign-on to websites that will allow them to view their energy-usage data alongside other information, according to the report.

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