COMMENT SOUGHT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SMART GRID TECHNOLOGY, NBP PUBLIC NOTICE #2
Federal Communications CommissionNews Media Information 202 / 418-0500
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Released: September 4, 2009
COMMENT SOUGHT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SMART GRID TECHNOLOGY
NBP Public Notice #2
PLEADING CYCLE ESTABLISHED
GN Docket Nos. 09-47, 09-51, 09-137
Comment Date: October 2, 2009In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), Congress directed the
Commission, in its development of a National Broadband Plan, to include "a plan for the use of
broadband infrastructure and services in advancing . . . energy independence and efficiency."1 Smart
Grid technology has been identified as a promising way to use broadband and other advanced
communications to promote energy efficiency,2 reduce greenhouse gas emissions,3 and encourage energy
independence.4 Parties commenting on the National Broadband Plan NOI have described other potential
benefits of Smart Grid technology, including the creation of new jobs,5 increased network performance
and reliability,6 and the advancement of new, environmentally-friendly technologies.7 Accordingly, we
seek tailored comment on how advanced infrastructure and services could help achieve efficient
implementation of Smart Grid technology.
Suitability of Communications Technologies.Smart Grid applications are being deployed using
a variety of public and private communications networks. We seek to better understand which
communications networks and technologies are suitable for various Smart Grid applications.
1 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, 6001(k)(2)(D), 123 Stat. 115 (2009)
2 See, e.g., Eric Lightner, Presentation at the Energy, Environment, and Transportation Broadband Workshop (Aug.
25, 2009) (presentation available at
http://www.broadband.gov/docs/ws_eng_env_trans/ws_eng_env_trans_lightner.pdf); Eric Miller, Presentation at the
Energy, Environment, and Transportation Broadband Workshop (Aug. 25, 2009) (presentation available at
http://www.broadband.gov/docs/ws_eng_env_trans/ws_eng_env_trans_miller.pdf); Future of Privacy Forum
Comments at 10; Dell Comments at 16.
3 See, e.g., Communications Workers of America (CWA) Comments at 32; Digital Energy Solutions Campaign
Comments at 1-2; Intel Comments at 14-15.
4 See, e.g., NASUCA Comments at 77; Alcatel-Lucent Comments at 23.
5 See, e.g., Motorola Comments at 35; CWA Comments at 32.
6 See, e.g., Mark Dudzinski, Presentation at the Energy, Environment, and Transportation Broadband Workshop
(Aug. 25, 2009) (presentation available at
http://www.broadband.gov/docs/ws_eng_env_trans/ws_eng_env_trans_dudzinski.pdf); National Rural Electric
Cooperative Association Comments at 14.
7 See, e.g., Utilities Telecom Council and the Edison Electric Institute Comments at 5; Motorola Comments at 35;
Joby Lafky, Presentation at the Energy, Environment, and Transportation Broadband Workshop (Aug. 25, 2009)
(presentation available at http://www.broadband.gov/docs/ws_eng_env_trans/ws_eng_env_trans_lafky.pdf).
a. What are the specific network requirements for each application in the grid (e.g., latency,
bandwidth, reliability, coverage, others)? If these differ by application, how do they
differ? We welcome detailed Smart Grid network requirement analyses.
b. Which communications technologies and networks meet these requirements? Which are
best suited for Smart Grid applications? If this varies by application, why does it vary
and in what way? What are the relative costs and performance benefits of different
communications technologies for different applications?
c. What types of network technologies are most commonly used in Smart Grid applications?
We welcome detailed analysis of the costs, relative performance and benefits of
alternative network technologies currently employed by existing Smart Grid
deployments, including both "last mile," backhaul, and control network technologies.
d. Are current commercial communications networks adequate for deploying Smart Grid
applications? If not, what are specific examples of the ways in which current networks
are inadequate? How could current networks be improved to make them adequate, and at
what cost? If this adequacy varies by application, why does it vary and in what way?
e. How reliable are commercial wireless networks for carrying Smart Grid data (both in
last-mile and backhaul applications)? Are commercial wireless networks suitable for
critical electricity equipment control communications? How reliably can commercial
wireless networks transmit Smart Grid data during and after emergency events? What
could be done to make commercial wireless networks more reliable for Smart Grid
applications during such events? We welcome detailed comparisons of the reliability of
commercial wireless networks and other types of networks for Smart Grid data transport.
Availability of Communications Networks.Electric utilities offer near universal service,
including in many geographies where no existing suitable communications networks currently
exist (for last-mile, aggregation point data backhaul, and utility control systems). We seek to better
understand the availability of existing communications networks, and how this availability may
impact Smart Grid deployments.
a. What percentage of electric substations, other key control infrastructure, and potential
Smart Grid communications nodes have no access to suitable communications networks?
What constitutes suitable communications networks for different types of control
infrastructure? We welcome detailed analyses of substation and control infrastructure
connectivity, potential connectivity gaps, and the cost-benefit of different alternatives to
close potential gaps.
b. What percentage of homes have no access to suitable communications networks for
Smart Grid applications (either for last-mile, or aggregation point connectivity)?
c. In areas where suitable communications networks exist, are there other impediments
preventing the use of these networks for Smart Grid communications?
d. How does the availability of a suitable broadband network (wireless, wireline or other)
impact the cost of deploying Smart Grid applications in a particular geographical area?
In areas with no existing networks, is this a major barrier to Smart Grid deployment? We
welcome detailed economic analyses showing how the presence (or lack) of existing
communications networks impacts Smart Grid deployment costs.
Spectrum.Currently, Smart Grid systems are deployed using a variety of communications
technologies, including public and private wireless networks, using licensed and unlicensed
spectrum. We seek to better understand how wireless spectrum is or could be used for Smart Grid
a. How widely used is licensed spectrum for Smart Grid applications (utility-owned, leased,
or vendor-operated)? For which applications is this spectrum used? We welcome
detailed analyses of current licensed spectrum use in Smart Grid applications, including
frequencies and channels.
b. How widely used is unlicensed spectrum? For which applications is this spectrum used?
We welcome detailed analyses of current unlicensed spectrum use in Smart Grid
applications, including frequencies and channels.
c. Have wireless Smart Grid applications using unlicensed spectrum encountered
interference problems? If so, what are the nature, frequency, and potential impact of
these problems, and how have they been resolved?
d. What techniques have been successfully used to overcome interference problems,
particularly in unlicensed bands?
e. Are current spectrum bands currently used by power utilities enough to meet the needs of
Smart Grid communications? We welcome detailed studies and discussion showing that
the current spectrum is or is not sufficient.
Is additional spectrum required for Smart Grid applications? If so, why are current
wireless solutions inadequate?
i. Coverage: What current and future nodes of the Smart Grid are not and will not
be in the coverage area of commercial mobile operators or of existing utility-run
private networks? We welcome detailed descriptions of the location, number and
connectivity required of each node not expected to be in coverage.
ii. Throughput: What is the expected throughput required by different
communications nodes of the Smart Grid, today and in the future, and why
will/won't commercial mobile networks and/or private utility owned networks on
existing spectrum be able to support such throughputs? We welcome detailed
studies on the location and throughput requirements and characteristics of each
communications node in the Smart Grid.
iii. Latency: What are the maximum latency limits for communications to/from
different nodes of the Smart Grid for different applications, why will/won't
commercial mobile networks be able to support such requirements, and how
could private utility networks address the same challenge differently?
iv. Security: What are the major security challenges, and the relative merits and
deficiencies of private utility networks versus alternative solutions provided by
commercial network providers, such as VPNs? Do the security requirements and
the relative merits of commercial versus private networks depend on the specific
Smart Grid application? If so, how?
v. Coordination: Are there benefits or technical requirements to coordinate
potential allocation of spectrum to the Smart Grid communications with other
countries? What are they?
vi. Spectrum allocation: Are there any specific requirements associated with Smart
Grid communications that require or rule out any specific band, duplexing
scheme (e.g., FDD vs TDD), channel width, or any other requirements or
g. If spectrum were to be allocated for Smart Grid applications, how would this impact
current, announced and planned Smart Grid deployments? How many solutions would
use allocated spectrum vs. current solutions? Which Smart Grid applications would
likely be most impacted?
Real-time Data.The Smart Grid promises to enable utility companies and their customers to
reduce U.S. energy consumption using a variety of technologies and methods. Some of the most
promising of these methods use demand response, in which utility companies can directly control
loads within the home or business to better manage demand, or give price signals to encourage
load shedding. Other methods reduce energy consumption simply by providing consumers access
to their consumption information, via in-home displays, web portals, or other methods. Central to
all of these techniques is energy consumption and pricing data.
a. In current Smart Meter deployments, what percentage of customers have access to real-
time consumption and/or pricing data? How is this access provided?
b. What are the methods by which consumers can access this data (e.g., via Smart Meter,
via a utility website, via third-party websites, etc.)? What are the relative merits and risks
of each method?
c. How should third-party application developers and device makers use this data? How
can strong privacy and security requirements be satisfied without stifling innovation?
d. What uses of real-time consumption and pricing data have been shown most effective at
reducing peak load and total consumption? We welcome detailed analyses of the relative
merits and risks of these methods.
e. Are there benefits to providing consumers more granular consumption data? We
welcome studies that examine how consumer or business behavior varies with the type
and frequency of energy consumption data.
What are the implications of opening real-time consumption data to consumers and the
energy management devices and applications they choose to connect?
Home Area Networks. We seek to understand the ways in which utilities, technology providers
and consumers will connect appliances, thermostats, and energy displays to each other, to the
electric meter, and to the Internet.
a. Which types of devices (e.g., appliances, thermostats, and energy displays, etc.) will be
connected to Smart Meters? What types of networking technologies will be used? What
type of data will be shared between Smart Meters and devices?
b. Which types of devices (e.g., appliances, thermostats, and energy displays, etc.) will be
connected to the Internet? What types of networking technologies will be used? What
type of data will be shared between these devices and the Internet?
c. We welcome analyses that examine the role of broadband requirements for Home Area
Networks that manage energy loads or deliver other energy management services.
This matter shall be treated as a "permit-but-disclose" proceeding in accordance with the
Commission's ex parte rules. See 47 C.F.R. 1.1200, 1.1206. Persons making oral ex parte
presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentations must contain summaries of the
substance of the presentations and not merely a listing of the subjects discussed. More than a one- or two-
sentence description of the views and arguments presented generally is required. See 47 C.F.R.
1.1206(b). Other rules pertaining to oral and written ex parte presentations in permit-but-disclose
proceedings are set forth in section 1.1206(b) of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.1206(b).
All comments should refer to GN Docket Nos. 09-47, 09-51, and 09-137. Please titlecomments responsive to this Notice as "Comments--NBP Public Notice #2." Further, we strongly
encourage parties to develop responses to this Notice that adhere to the organization and structure
of the questions in this Notice.
Comments may be filed using (1) the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS),
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