Power & Pipes

FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments

On October 7, 2010 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) opened Docket No. RM11-2-000 to initiate rulemaking proceedings concerning Smart Grid Interoperability Standards.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (“EISA”) promulgated the policy of the United States to update and modernize the national electric transmission system, and to design a regulatory structure to produce interoperability of smart grid technology, which includes model standards for information management. In furtherance of such policies, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) is directed By EISA to develop smart grid interoperability standards, which are then subjected to the administrative rulemaking process for potential approval when the Commission finds such standards meet a “sufficient consensus.” Although the Commission does not have the authority under EISA to enforce the final standards, it would consider mandating compliance with the standards under its authority delegated By the Federal Power Act. The first set of potential smart grid standards have been submitted By the NIST to the Commission for which Docket No. RM11-2-000 has been opened.  Though the Commission has not yet made a formal finding that the proposed NIST standards demonstrate a “sufficient consensus,” the Commission did state in a press release that it would issue a Notice for Proposed Rule Making (“NOPR”) “in the near future.”  The Commission also indicated that it thought this would be the first set of “what may be several hundred more” identified in the coming years.

To date, Docket No. RM11-2-000 features summaries of the standards that may be issued with the NOPR, for standards that will:

  • Institute a Common Information Model required for exchange of data between smart devices and the networks for transmission and distribution (standards IEC 61970 and IEC61968).
  • Provide a common data format for substation automation, communication, and interoperability (IEC 61850).
  • Ease information exchange among control centers (IEC 60870-6).
  • Handle communication protocol cyber security issues (IEC 62351).

Although the summaries of these potential standards are available to the public in Docket No. RM11-2-000, they are not available for comment until a formal NOPR has been issued.