Networking the Green Economy: How Broadband and Related Technologies Can Build a Green Economic Future

Networking the Green Economy

How Broadband and Related Technologies Can Build a Green Economic Future


The Progressive States Network was founded in 2005 to drive public policy debates and change the political landscape in the United States by focusing on attainable, progressive state action. The Progressive States Network advances this agenda by providing coordinated research and strategic advocacy tools to forward-thinking state policymakers, legislative staff, and non-profit organizations. We function as a meeting space for progressive legislators, activists, and citizens, and serve as a hotbed of information exchange. We track legislation in all 50 states, helping to spark change across the country. We make it easier for people to learn more about how to get good ideas passed into law — and take power into their own hands.


Launched in 2006 by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, the Blue Green Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations with a membership of more than eight million people in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment, and a green economy. The Alliance works on issues ranging from energy and climate change to transportation to workers’ rights and green chemistry. Its primary goals are to enact as a comprehensive clean energy and climate change legislation, restore the rights of workers in the United States, establish a 21st century trade policy, and create an informed 21st century policy on toxic chemicals.


The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada. Its overarching goals are: (1) to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth, (2) to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources, (3) to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment, and (4) to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.


The Communications Workers of America is the union for the Information Age, representing 700,000 workers in communications, media, airlines, manufacturing, and public service. Speed Matters, a

project of the Communications Workers of America, promotes affordable high-speed Internet for

all Americans.

What is the Smart Grid?

The smart grid is an aggregate term that refers to a distribution system that allows the flow of information to the consumer and to the utility company through thermostats, Web based programs, appliances, and other devices. It is designed to improve the reliability, security, and efficiency of the electric system. The smart grid provides real-timing monitoring and data retrieval that allows the utility to better regulate and respond to issues on electricity distribution as well as provide detailed real-time information to consumers on their energy consumption.

Executive Summary

Networking the Green Economy:

How Broadband and Related Technologies Can Build a Green Economic Future

Broadband and information communication technologies have the potential of revolutionizing energy management and economic development. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States accounts for about a quarter of the world’s energy consumption.1 A poor communications infrastructure underlies much of our wasted energy use. In order to reduce energy, we must install new technologies that can monitor and more effectively use natural resources. Advanced communication will play an essential role in facilitating and integrating these technologies.

Policies that support broadband technology can reverse the projections showing that energy consumption is likely to rise2 and that greenhouse gas emissions will increase3. With coordinated research, support and action from consumers, advocates and federal and state legislators, broadband and related communication technologies can pave the way for a greener and more robust economy. By transforming the way people and businesses use technology, the United States can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 13 to 22 percent by 2020 — and potentially see gross energy and fuel savings of $140-240 billion, according to an estimate by the Climate Group, an international organization of business and government members.4 This paper sets forth ideas, research and recommendations to achieve this goal.

Information Communication Technologies Are Key To a More Efficient Coordination of Energy Supplies and Distribution: A smart grid better manages the distribution and consumption of energy that can facilitate more efficient energy use, integrate various sources of renewable energy into our power system, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and increase grid reliability.

Ӣ Establishing smart grids at the transmission level will enable digital controls and high-voltage transmission lines to transport energy from renewable energy source sites to distant primary-use locations with far less energy loss than the current grid model.

Ӣ Using communication technologies will integrate distributed energy devices, from solar panels to smart appliances to electric vehicles, into the energy grid and allow monitoring such devices and renewable energy in real time.

Ӣ Increasing grid efficiency through real-time monitoring, automation and self-healing capabilities of distribution-level smart grid systems can increase grid efficiency, which results in reduced energy generation and reduced energy use. Energy savings equivalent to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from 53 million cars could be achieved by improving the efficiency of the grid by just 5 percent.5

Ӣ By appropriating approximately $4.5 billion for smart grid demonstration and deployment in the recent recovery plan, the federal government has taken a small but positive step towards the larger investments needed to modernize the current grid.


Smart Technologies can Reduce Energy Demand in the Home and Office:

Ӣ Installing smart meters and connecting home and office appliances to a smart grid can offer additional flexibility and opportunities to advance energy efficiency and clean energy goals.

Ӣ Using dynamic electricity rates can potentially increase energy and environmental gains as well as economic savings, but it is critical to ensure that consumers benefit from such rate system changes and that other areas of utility regulation remain to encourage other energy conservation programs.

Ӣ Instituting smart grid technology policies will encourage the creation of sustainable jobs in a transformed utility industry.

Ӣ Using Internet-based broadband, open architectures, and interoperable technologies when implementing smart meters in homes and offices can avoid costly technological obsolescence and ensure that all parts of the smart grid work together.

”¢ Allowing various building systems to communicate and interact with each other through smart technologies will thereby reduce energy use and buildings’ negative impact on the environment. Through better building design, management and automation, the United States could save $20 to 25 billion in energy use and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 130 to 190MMT.6


Broadband can Reduce Travel and Fuel Costs: By reducing air and ground transportation — amongst the leading sources of pollution — broadband and support applications can reduce the need to travel, decrease gas consumption, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Ӣ Increased adoption of broadband technology and telehealth practices could decrease travel by allowing doctors to monitor and consult with patients remotely.

Ӣ Telehealth technologies could avoid 850,000 transports between emergency departments, resulting in transit cost savings of $537 million a year.7

Ӣ Teleconferencing and other remote online communication also reduces the amount of energy used for business and education related travel.


This Green Economic Future Depends on Large-Scale Adoption of Broadband: To realize the economic, environmental, and societal benefits discussed in this paper, we must commit to ensuring that everyone, regardless of income-level, educational background, geographic location, race, and age has the ability to, and understands the benefits of, being a participant in our digital society.

Ӣ An estimated 3 to 6 million American households have no access to a single broadband provider, and roughly one-third of U.S. households with access do not subscribe to broadband.8

Ӣ Broadband subscription rates are under 50 percent for some groups, including certain minority populations, rural communities, and households with incomes of less than $50,000 per year.

Ӣ To fully realize a robust green economic future, it will take a firm and long-standing commitment to extend transformative communication technologies, such as broadband, to everyone.

Policy Recommendations for

Networking the Green Economy

Basic broadband deployment and inclusion goals: Policymakers should endorse initiatives and programs that increase access to and adoption of affordable broadband that supports advanced applications and devices in a reliable and consistent fashion. Specifically, policy makers should:

Ӣ Promote deployment and adoption of high-capacity broadband to ensure that it is available to everyone irrespective of income level, age, education, ethnicity or geographical location.

”¢ Promote digital inclusion programs and community technology centers to increase citizens’ digital skills and literacy, while educating individuals on how technology is revolutionizing basic services and every day activities.

Ӣ Pool demand to create purchasing efficiencies and support programs that educate individuals on information and broadband supported applications as a means to increase broadband demand.

Ӣ Invest in high-speed broadband networks, including through long-term federal recovery plans.


Develop programs and policies that support and promote the implementation of smart grids and devices. States and the federal government should work to:

”¢ Develop smart grid standards and ensure that those standards are transparent, inclusive, and consider states’ planning concerns.

Ӣ Encourage accelerated deployment of smart grid architecture using existing open standards and protocols, ready to adopt new standards.

Ӣ Conduct studies and pilot programs that will supply evidence on the impact of smart technologies on the environment and the cost of energy.

Ӣ Adopt a ratemaking policy that allows for a portion of the economic savings produced by deployment of smart grid infrastructure and other advanced technology to fund consumer broadband initiatives, energy savings for all consumers, and good jobs in the industry.

”¢ Commit to quality service delivered by career-skilled employees, including work force development and training programs while protecting workers’ freedom to form unions. This includes creating good, sustainable green jobs that will enable those employees to develop, manufacture, deploy, and maintain the various elements of smart grid infrastructure.


Develop programs to implement smart meters and real-time pricing in a manner that protects consumers and strengthens the economy through the promotion of green jobs.

Ӣ Ensure that smart meters are deployed have the technological metrics necessary to guarantee that they are capable of communicating with other smart grid components and will not become prematurely obsolete.

Ӣ Any use of dynamic pricing should be designed so that (1) net energy savings and benefits considerably exceed the costs of the smart meter deployment, (2) such savings and benefits lead to lower prices for consumers and not just increased profits for utilities, and (3) policies protect the rights and concerns of consumers and consumer advocacy groups.

”¢ Protect broader areas of electricity regulation that promote energy conservation programs funded by utility companies and that protect consumer and workers’ rights in the industry.


Adopt Telehealth Practices to Decrease Environmental Impact:

Ӣ States should conduct studies and pilot programs to better estimate cost savings and the increased access to the quality care that telehealth provides.

Ӣ Incentives should be created to encourage hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities to use telehealth technology where reasonable and cost-effective.

Ӣ States should address privacy, licensing, insurance as well as Medicaid reimbursement procedures and laws that can be barriers to extending the use of telehealth applications.


In President Obama’s first weekly radio address outlining his economic recovery plan, he emphasized the importance of broadband communications as critical to the long-term future of our nation. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included a wide range of technology investments, from broadband and smart grid deployment to new technologies that improve the access to health information and care.


While building a green economy is often discussed as a goal distinct from investing in broadband or overcoming the growing digital divide in our society, leveraging new communication technologies is actually a critical part of making our energy-hungry economy more sustainable and energy-efficient.


A poor communications infrastructure underlies much of the wasted energy use in our economy. Lack of a high-capacity, interactive communication system linking utilities and electric power systems means utilities continually transmit a significant amount of unused electricity (e.g. electricity wasted through line loss), excessive amounts of electricity (e.g. maintaining unnecessarily high voltage transmit levels), and additional power from plants kept running so-called “peaker plants” to meet unexpected surges in demand. Lack of broadband access means patients, especially those that reside in remote areas, are forced to make long-distance car trips for medical care instead of using remote monitoring, and business staff waste jet fuel for travel instead of using teleconferencing for many routine communications.


Smart buildings, smart grids, telehealth, teleconferencing, digital education all of these critical components of a highly-networked economy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve energy resources, and promote good green jobs. In this green energy equation, the deployment and adoption of broadband and other networking technology can help reduce the amount of wasted energy and help achieve our goal of creating a prosperous and green economy.


The Environmental Cost of Wasted Energy

The United States uses a lot of energy nearly a million dollars worth each minute.9 With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, America currently consumes about one-fourth of the world’s energy resources.10 This vast energy consumption produces greenhouse gas emissions,11 which are taking their toll on our environment, leading to climate change throughout the world, and threatening the long-term health of our planet.


To foster economic growth without destroying our planet, we need to use energy more efficiently and better integrate alternative energy sources into our power grid. By using applications and devices supported by digital infrastructure, such as broadband and information communication technology, we can build a green economy continuing our economic growth and creating new jobs while decreasing our energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.


Using Networked Technology to Reduce Emissions and Save Energy

Federal and state leaders, the energy industry, consumer and environmental advocates, and labor unions are increasingly exploring mechanisms to use information technology to remake our power systems. To continue economic growth without devastating our planet through greenhouse gas emissions,12 we need to consume energy more efficiently, increase the integration of renewable energy sources into our power grid, and replace basic everyday carbon-intensive behaviors with more environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives. Digital infrastructure and two-way communication technologies such as broadband if widely distributed have the potential to revolutionize power planning, from generation to transmission to distribution to use of in-home devices.


This report will detail three broad areas of energy savings from network technology that can help achieve energy savings and environmental goals:

Ӣ Smart grids to improve the transmission, management, and distribution of energy in a strategic, efficient, and reliable manner.

Ӣ Smart technologies that reduce energy use at home or office including smart buildings and other demand-management tools.

Ӣ Broadband-based services including telehealth, long-distance business communication, and e-commerce to reduce travel and associated fuel costs.


By transforming the way people and businesses use technology, the United States can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 13 to 22 percent by 2020 and potentially see gross energy and fuel savings of $140-240 billion, according to an estimate by the Climate Group, an international organization of business and government members.13 Other analysts frame potential savings from widespread adoption and use of broadband applications as potentially yielding a net reduction by 1 billion tons of greenhouse gas over 10 years, which would be equivalent to 11 percent of annual U.S. oil imports.14


The Need for a Coordinated Broadband Policy

To achieve the environmental benefits associated with the digital infrastructure, devices, and applications discussed in this paper, the United States needs to strengthen its broadband deployment and adoption.


Unfortunately, an estimated 3 to 6 million American households have no access to a single broadband provider and roughly 33 percent of U.S. households with access do not subscribe to broadband.15


According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, that number is over 50 percent for some groups such as African Americans and rural residents.16 To increase broadband access, state and federal governments must commit to supporting build-out of broadband, especially to un-served and under-served areas. Further, there must be a commitment to increasing broadband adoption, especially for populations with low subscription rates, through programs that educate the public on the relevance and importance of broadband, provide digital skills training, and increase the affordability of broadband and related technology. If research uncovers ways to capture the economic savings from using broadband supported applications and devices in the long-term, part of those savings should be used to fund increased access to and adoption of broadband.

Building a Smart Grid to Reduce the Costs of Distributing Energy

A lack of investment in grid upgrades and an energy policy that, until recently, focused little on renewable energy sources, has left the United States with an energy grid that is inadequate in terms of capacity, reliability, security,17 and power quality.18 Our outdated grid wastes massive amounts of energy during the transmission process and utilities must therefore maintain environmentally destructive power plants that would be unneeded with a more advanced power grid.


The unreliability of our current power grid is costing consumers billions and hindering our economic growth. Major power outages, including three in the last 10 years, have occurred during the last four decades.19 These power outages are a result, at least in part, of our unintelligent grid which has slow response time, poor “situational awareness” and no “automated analytics”20 and costs our society billions of dollars. For example, during the summer of 2000 when the Chicago Board of Trade lost power for one hour, approximately $20 trillion worth of trades could not be executed.21 In aggregate, power outages and disturbances cost the United States between $80 billion and $150 billion annually.22 The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) estimates that power system disturbances cost 50 cents for every dollar spent for electricity, and that the smart grid has the potential to reduce this cost by 50 percent or more.23


EPRI calculates that grid modernization could save the U.S economy between $638 billion and $802 billion over 20 years, compared to the $165 billion cost of modernizing the grid.24


In order to make our grid more efficient and enable the large scale incorporation of multiple renewable energy sources, high-speed and fully integrated two-way communication technologies must be incorporated into the power system.25 As Bracken Hendricks from the Center for American Progress wrote in a February 2009 report:


Largely unchanged in generations, we are now using yesterday’s technologies to power an increasingly global 21st-century economy”¦ our current electricity grid [is not] capable of capturing the opportunity created by recent advances in information technology; exciting new tools for producing radical gains in energy efficiency, reliability, and security; or the deployment of clean renewable energy at the scale needed to meet the clean-energy demands of a new century.26


Building a 21st Century Power Grid

The implementation of a smart grid will help to decrease harmful emissions, provide economic savings, and increase reliability and security. By incorporating best practices from the energy, networking and digital information technology industries, a smart grid could optimize grid operations, assist in better incorporation of renewable energy sources, and give utilities and consumers tools like access to increased information in order to help them better control and manage their energy consumption. In fact, the MIT Technology Review recently confirmed “without a radically expanded and smarter electrical grid, wind and solar will remain niche power sources.”27

Power generation could be decreased by 3 to 5 percent by installing a smart grid capable of delivering only necessary electricity.28 Energy savings equivalent to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from 53 million cars could be achieved by improving the efficiency of the grid by just 5 percent.29 Moreover, it is projected that smart grid technologies would reduce power disturbance costs to the U.S. economy by $49 billion per year.30


In addition, a smart grid that extends its communications network to homes and buildings can turn these traditionally large energy users into potential energy producers. Such a grid could allow energy consumers to sell solar-based and other renewable energy back to the power grid,31 making such investments more economical and further decreasing the dependence on fossil fuel based power plants. For example, a home could be powered by its own solar energy during the day and then the consumer could sell any extra energy produced back to the larger grid, an option called “net metering.32


One of the fundamental elements of the smart grid is its communication system. As maintained in a testimony before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warning, “[a] smart grid, in many ways is like an Internet for Electricity, a network of devices that are monitored and managed with real-time communications and computer intelligence.”33


Communications technology is essential to the functionality of the smart grid because it gathers the vast data generated by energy use and transforms this data into information to the consumer and the utility company. As such, the communication that is transmitted must be pervasive, rapid, scalable, secure, and robust at all times, especially during emergency situations.34


While some of the specific standards that will support smart grids are still under development, it is important to guarantee that investments made in core elements of a new grid will not become obsolete in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the grid communication systems should be capable, among other things, of firmware upgradeability (“over the air” upgradeability) and support low-latency tolerant and high-bandwidth applications and devices.35


While much of the political and media focus on grid automation up to this point has been focused on smart meters in the home, devices that increase command and control of the grid’s backbone will provide an immediate and long-lasting increase in grid efficiency and savings.36

The backbone of a clean energy smart grid can be seen as consisting of long-distance energy transmission and power distribution.37


Approximately 85% of the carbon emissions cuts associated with the implementation of a smart grid can be attributed to increased incorporation of renewables into the grid and grid optimization, according to the Climate Group’s SMART 2020 Report.38


Managing Long Distance Energy Transmission

Integrating networked communications into the transmission system will help create a grid capable of better response time to large-scale and isolated-system failures, moving renewable energy efficiently over long distances and addressing congestion issues.39


Many renewable energy sources in the United States are in isolated areas that are unable to connect effectively with our current outdated power grid.40 For instance, a Department of Energy study found that it could be possible for 20 percent of the nation’s electricity demand to be met by wind sources in 2030.41 However, one issue hindering wind energy is that a portion of these wind farms are located in remote areas, far from major centers of electricity demand, with little or no access to high voltage transmission lines.42


By implementing advanced digital controls and technologies such as syncrophasors precise grid measurements that indicate grid stress throughout the transmission system, transmission operators will be able to use long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines to move energy from renewable energy source sites to distant distribution grids located at primary-use locations with far less energy loss than is currently possible.43


A smart grid could also improve overall grid efficiency and reduce congestion. According to one study, consumers in the eastern U.S. pay $16.5 billion per year in higher electricity prices due to transmission congestion, a problem that would be largely resolved by an upgraded smart grid.44


Coordinating Power Distribution

Upgrading the old distribution grids with smart grid technology will improve distribution-level reliability and efficiency, reduce operating costs, and enable full integration of upcoming renewable and distributed energy sources, which will greatly benefit the environment. In fact, EPRI projects that carbon dioxide emissions could be cut by 25 percent with the implementation of Smart Grid enabled distribution.45


Respected authorities (e.g. National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners,46 EPRI,47 and the Center for American Progress48) recognize that significant modernization of distribution system will produce considerable grid-related efficiency and environmental savings and benefits. System optimization and automation will be enhanced as the smart grid is implemented on the distribution system.49 Authorities also recognize the inherent nexus between the transmission and distribution grids,50 and they acknowledge the need for smart grid deployments at the distribution grid level. For instance, the Center for American Progress recently stated:


The natural complement to a robust interstate transmission network for renewable electricity is an intelligent “smart grid” distribution system that delivers electricity right to the plugs in consumers’ homes. The smart grid integrates digital information technology into regional and local electricity distribution networks, making the grid more reliable, resilient, and secure. The smart grid also accommodates distributed generation of renewable power, enables better demand management and energy-efficiency gains by consumers and businesses, and facilitates large-scale deployment of plug-in electric vehicles.51



As the above mentioned authorities suggest, modernized distribution systems could also lead to a more reliable and resilient power system overall. For instance, the real-time monitoring, automation, and self-healing capabilities of distribution-level smart grid systems will provide for the widespread implementation of microgrids, as well as renewable and individual distributed energy resources like solar panels and plug-in electric vehicles. Incorporating renewable energy resources into our energy distribution system is an essential step to reducing the negative environmental side effects of our energy use.


A distribution-level smart grid will enable such resources to interact most efficiently with the bulk power system and also operate independently during decreases in supply levels that result from the intermittent nature of renewable and distributed generation sources or from system disruptions such as line faults. In short, smart grid implementation at the distribution level will enable the real-time interaction between the bulk power and distribution systems needed to ensure full optimization of investments in transmission and end-user devices.


Smart Grid improvements should be prioritized in areas that reduce carbon emissions. We need to relieve system congestion that limits renewable resources and lowers carbon resources rapidly. System upgrades, if done without attention to this issue, could actually increase carbon emissions if currently underutilized coal plants increase their operations. Smart grid improvements should be sequenced such that high-carbon resources are phased out as quickly as possible and replaced with a combination of lower carbon fuels such as solar, wind, and geothermal energy, and lowest-emission combined cycle natural gas technologies.


Smart grid systems on the distribution level can thereby automate distribution grids, regulate the flow of electricity so as to reduce generation needs, reduce electric delivery costs, and optimize the integration of renewable energy and distributed energy resources, as well as in-home energy management devices. Further, such distribution grid modernization is necessary to maximize the benefits of an advanced electric transmission system, creating a robust, reliable, and secure electric delivery system.

Smart Technologies to Reduce Energy Demand in the Home and Office

If built to connect in real time with a utility and smart grid through a high capacity, interactive communications network, smart meters, smart appliances and networked homes and offices can become part of revolutionized power system, which can provide large economic and environmental pay-offs. However, it is imperative that when deploying these technologies, utilities use communications backbone and data management systems in tandem with demand-based technology systems.52


Smart Meters to Manage Power Consumption

With the right type of consumer protections and technological metrics in place, smart meters can help individuals purchase energy more efficiently. A smart meter system is a component of the smart grid designed to measure energy usage; its effectiveness depends on communication systems that are scalable and expandable to accommodate sensors in multiple locations throughout the grid.53


More efficient energy use by customers can yield economic and energy savings, while “increasing the quality, reliability and security of electric power service to all customers.”54 For example, smart meters and dynamic pricing could give consumers the ability to track their own power usage and then provide a financial incentive to alter their energy consumption either by shifting away from periods of peak demand, purchasing more environmentally friendly and energy efficient appliances, or simply decreasing overall energy usage.55


So what are the potential savings from using properly designed smart meters to reduce energy usage, especially during peak energy (high-cost) periods?

Ӣ First, there is the direct benefit of lower energy bills for consumers who alter their behavior and either reduce energy consumption overall or during peak periods.56 Pilot programs and studies have demonstrated that consumers who track their energy use in real time and consequently make simple behavioral changes accordingly can save 5 to 15 percent on their electricity consumption, which amount to savings of $60 to $180 per year.57

Ӣ Second, an overall reduction in peak demand consumption provides indirect benefits to every customer.58 With lower, steadier demand, in the long term, utilities may not have to invest in or purchase costly new capacity,59 savings that could benefit consumers who would have to pay reduced energy bills.60 Dynamic pricing to shift demand can also lead to a more reliable grid and reduce the risk of outages that are often costly to the economy.61


Additionally, according to the Department of Energy,


Demand response may provide environmental benefits by reducing the emissions of generation plants during peak periods. It may also provide overall conservation effects, both directly from demand response load reductions (that are not made up at another time) and indirectly from increased customer awareness of their energy usage and cost.62


To give some sense of the benefits of such demand reductions, if just half of American households cut their demand by 10 percent, the CO2 emissions avoided would be equal to taking approximately eight million cars off the road.63

Smart Buildings: Networking Homes and Offices for Energy Savings

The incorporation of networked technology into buildings can optimize a building’s energy consumption by controlling multiple devices,64 improve the ability to monitor buildings,65 give building owners and occupants more information about and control over their energy use66 and integrate that use into the emerging smart grid. Since buildings in the United States account for approximately 39 percent of the nation’s total energy use, 72 percent of the electricity consumption and 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions,67 smart technology will modify their energy demand, consequently cutting emissions and freeing resources for investing in long-term economic growth.

The Center of American Progress predicts that integrating smart technology into new construction or in the renovation of existing buildings can make them more environmentally friendly, saving the U.S. $20-25 billion and reducing carbon dioxide emissions between 130-190MMT.68


In certain circumstances, such as by using specialized software, smart buildings can even make their own efficient energy use decisions.69 Further, smart buildings connected to a smart grid could automate power-saving methods throughout an entire region.70 Such digital systems and automated processes can take demand response to a new level where manual controls will give way to smart sensors and automated response systems.71 For example, a smart building could potentially adjust the amount of indoor light being used based on the amount of sunlight coming through a window.72


The net result is more efficient and environmentally-friendly buildings using less energy. This approach not only saves consumers money, but also significantly reduces buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint.

Making the Transition to the Smart Grid

In making the transition to the Smart Grid, Smart Buildings and related technologies, policymakers need to invest for the long-term in ways that benefit consumers, workers, and the broader public interest. The most sustainable technologies will be tied to broadband-based protocols that easily integrate with other digital networks. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to policymakers, including parts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which can assist in this transition.


Using Advanced Technology and Regulations to Protect Consumer and Worker Interests

Any transition to smart grids and new energy management technologies should assure that consumers and workers in the industry benefit from the economic savings and growth generated.


While the operational benefits that smart meters provide to utilities -- such as facilitating, remote meter monitoring, outage management, remote connect and disconnect, 73 and load forecasting74 may be more apparent -- smart meters and dynamic pricing will benefit consumers only if properly designed and implemented to protect consumer interests. Smart meters and dynamic pricing that allow individuals to track their energy consumption and provide financial incentives for reduced energy use could result in savings for consumers.75 Consumer advocates worry that the costs of installing some current versions of smart meters could outweigh the savings that households would receive from reducing or shifting their energy usage,76 especially if those meters become technologically outdated and have to be replaced before any savings offset deployment costs. In addition, if the cost of electricity is dynamically priced throughout the day, this may not benefit, and could harm, consumers, such as the elderly and ill, who are not able to alter their energy use.77 Some consumer advocates also fear that smart meter deployment may serve as an excuse for utilities to raise rates.78 So any deployment of smart meters should be done in ways that do not increase costs for residents but instead ensure that any smart meters are deployed only when energy savings can fully cover costs for consumers.


To facilitate the connection of smart meters to other smart technologies and to avoid their obsolteness,79 meters should incorporate high-bandwidth and low-latency technology, IP protocols, interoperable technologies and open architecture. According to the New York Public Service Commission, a smart meter system, or AMI for Advanced Metering Infrastructure, is but one component of a smart grid, “[smart meter systems] must be designed to meet future requirements of the smart grid and particularly must contain communication systems that are scalable and expandable to accommodate sensors in multiple locations throughout the grid.”80


States also need to learn from mistakes made during utility deregulation and in addition to investing in smart meters, maintain other energy efficiency programs that assist consumers in shifting towards less energy use and subsidize such shifts for low-income users. Between 1995 and 1999, driven by the deregulation of electricity markets, power companies in North America cut spending on energy-efficiency programs by 42 percent.81 Any use of smart meters or dynamic pricing must be part of a broader regulated structure that maintains and expands those key energy-efficiency programs, especially for low-income families most in need of their support.


Restoring regulations that protect consumers, as well as protecting the rights of workers in the industry, are also critical pieces to assuring that consumers derive real benefit from smart grid technology. As Peter Bradford, a former chair of the New York Public Service Commission and former president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), noted, “[i]f energy policymakers and regulators learn anything from the restructuring experience to date, it should be that cost containment and public benefits should be locked into laws and regulations every bit as firmly as the gains for the energy industries and the larger customers.”82


With more than 564,000 people working in the utility industry,83 the adoption of smart meters and smart grids will likely change the nature of the work for many front-line utility workers. Utility employers and policymakers must ensure that changes in technology do not provide an opportunity to degrade the employment security and living standards of workers in the industry. Utility workers must receive training and other support necessary to learn the skills to work on new technologies and to build careers in the industry. Utility employers must not be allowed to use this transition to downgrade employment, outsource work, or evade union representation.

Boulder: A Smart Grid Experiment

Boulder, Colorado has been designated as the first “Smart Grid City” in the country that will integrate the first smart grid community and host the densest concentration of smart grid technologies. The project, currently led by software company Xcel, has invested up to $100 million worth of new technology, partly acquired by the grants provided through ARRA. Approximately 4,600 residential and small business transformers, and nearly 16,000 smart meters, are now connected to Smart Grid City.84 The project has installed new metering systems and converted existing substations into smart substations. Customers of Smart Grid system can also opt to receive in home control devices to automate their energy use. In addition, these grid updates will work to support generators and storage units such as solar panels, battery systems, wind turbines, and hybrid electric vehicles.85

The Role of Broadband in the Smart Grid and Smart Technologies

Broadband is a high-bandwidth, low-latency communications system that can support the most sophisticated smart grid technologies available today without becoming obsolete in the future. Each application of a smart grid, whether distribution automation, system optimization, smart meters, or smart appliances requires some level of bandwidth to transfer the data it is collecting or sending.86 While currently it may be possible to get by with low-bandwidth communications, in the long-term, “full broadband capacity is critical for the growth of the Smart Grid.”87 As Jesse Berst, a smart grid analyst with, argues, while “most of the systems being offered today have enough bandwidth for starter applications including smart metering, the real power of the smart grid is when you have telemetry all up and down the system and every piece of the system is monitored.”88


Digital technology must be used to service the communications backbone and consumer demand side of the smart grid. 89 There is a broad consensus, particularly coming from the federal government, that broadband is essential to building a smart grid infrastructure. Broadband connects all localities to enable nationwide, interoperable communications and control of the electricity system at the same time that it provides high-speed capacity to maintain robust cyber security. Accompanied by integrated broadband, the smart grid can facilitate the connection for multiple services and applications.90 This sentiment is shared by broadband providers who have begun to unveil plans that coordinate energy use technologies with broadband deployment. Verizon, for example, has announced that it will offer smart electricity metering in connection with FIOS service.91 AT&T announced plans to open its wireless network to smart meter maker SmartSynch,92 allowing electric utilities to install IP-based smart grid technology in their covered residential areas.93


Taking Advantage of Federal Investments in the Smart Grid

Our current grid uses communication systems that are too slow and too localized to support the networked communications required to support an interactive and integrated power grid.94 In order to fix our outmoded power system, federal, state and local leaders need to implement policies that encourage and support the expansion of smart grids and their underlying infrastructure. In recognition of such necessity, smart grid implementation is now being incorporated into national policy.


Most recently, the federal government in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) appropriated $4.5 billion for smart grid efforts, including demonstration projects and research.95 The ARRA, in order to further accelerate smart grid deployment, modifies and builds96 on Title XIII of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007,97 which initially provided financial support for smart grid development and demonstration projects.98


As detailed earlier, a smart grid will provide significant environmental benefits. If properly implemented, the long-term economic savings from a modern grid will more than pay for the necessary initial investments. EPRI calculates that modernization smart upgrade of the electrical grid could provide a benefit of four to five times its investment in modernization.99 Moreover, an additional $50 billion investment in the smart grid over five years (i.e., $10 billion per year) would create approximately 239,000 new or retain U.S. jobs for each of the five years on average, according to a recent report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.100

Tennessee Valley Authority Case Study by William Ray101

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is currently unable to meet their energy demand they are approximately 2,000 megawatts short of the capacity they need.102 The area is considering nuclear power as the means to generate the additionally needed units since the outlook for additional coal-fired generation is unclear. Projections put the cost of building new nuclear units around $3,000 and $7,000 per kilowatt. All together, the TVA plans to spend more than $18 billion over the next ten years on new nuclear units.


Broadband can be utilized to give consumers better control over their energy consumption, enable better integration of renewable energy sources and reduce demand during peak periods. In this way, broadband can reduce the need for reserve energy plants and new plant construction.


If the TVA had a high-speed capacity data connection to every home, they could use that connection to control thermostats on heating, air conditioning, water heating, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines, and other household appliances. This type of control mechanism would reduce peak demand by 2-4 kilowatts. Thus, if the money that might be spent on a new nuclear power plant was instead spent on broadband networks for every home and business in the Tennessee Valley, then the improvement in electrical capacity would be double or triple the improvement from building new nuclear power plants. The electrical savings during peak times may decrease enough to actually shut down old coal plants that run just to provide reserve power. Additionally, every home would now have a broadband connection capable of running the most advanced applications.


This broadband connection could be used to reduce other uses of fuel, such as by supporting telehealth and distance learning programs and enabling telecommuting all of which reduce travel and greenhouse gas emissions, and increase opportunities for citizens.



Using Broadband to Reduce Travel and Fuel Costs

Along with homes and offices, travel is a major consumer of energy. The pollution produced in transportation has a large negative impact on the environment. Broadband and supported advanced technological applications such as telehealth, long-distance communication services, and online distribution of goods can reduce the need to travel, decrease gas consumption, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing basic everyday carbon-intensive activities with less energy-intensive alternatives.



Travel costs associated with health care delivery is being significantly reduced, particularly for those in remote or underserved areas, due to the integration of technology such as broadband with medical services commonly referred to as telehealth.103


Often highlighted benefits of telehealth include increased access to medical services, improvements in quality of care, patient and doctor convenience, and reducing the cost of the health care system.104


Telehealth can decrease the need for, or the distance that patients and health care providers must travel, thereby reducing both negative greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.

Ӣ For instance, by using telehealth applications, patients suffering from chronic illness, or requiring routine check-ups to collect basic medical information105 can be monitored and examined (for example with video conferencing) from their homes, potentially reducing the number of trips that have to be taken by patients to medical facilities or by medical professionals to individuals homes.106 A Veterans Administration study reported a 40 percent cut in emergency room visits and a 63 percent reduction in hospital admissions resulting from its remote home monitoring system.107

”¢ Telehealth technologies can also reduce travel between health care facilities. By equipping doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals with broadband, doctors can share records and data online or send images to each other, facilitating collaboration between medical professionals in different areas and reducing the need, in certain circumstances, for patients to travel for second opinions or to see specialists.108 One estimate is that telehealth technologies could avoid 850,000 transports between emergency departments, resulting in transit cost savings of $537 million a year.109

”¢ According to Jack King, executive director of Northcentral Montana Hospital Association, “with an ongoing shortage of physicians, telehealth will help specialists reduce travel and see more patients.”110 Additionally, when facilities are equipped with broadband, doctors can also attend online trainings and lectures, potentially reducing the need to travel for professional development purposes.


However, as highlighted by Internet analysts Jim Baller and Casey Lide, America’s slow broadband speeds are impeding our ability to fully realize all the potential benefits of telehealth:


Under the FCC’s former definition of “broadband” (200 Kbps), it would take nearly a full day to download a 10 minute diagnostic video clip. At current DSL speeds, it would take almost three hours. Moreover, because DSL and CMS are typically asymmetric i.e., upload speeds are much slower than download speeds it would take much longer than three hours for the patient or his local doctor or health care facility with only DSL or CMS to upload the images to forward them to the reviewing health care facility. With a symmetric 100 Mbps broadband connection, it would only take three minutes to transmit the video clip.111


While basic information and communications technologies can supply some benefits and savings to the health care system, patients, and the environment, high-capacity broadband in homes across the country is ultimately required to achieve the full life-saving, environmental, and economic benefits of telehealth applications.112


Business and Long-Distance Communication


The emergence of a global economy has increased the need for business travel, in many cases long-distance business travel, that negatively affects the environment. Recent technological advancements, however, such as advanced video-based teleconferencing, have become viable substitutes where high-speed broadband is available for certain in-person interactions.113


Promoting technology-based innovations in lieu of travel can reduce the current negative impact of business travel on the environment and save an enormous amount of time and money. For instance, video conferencing expends 500 times less energy than a 1000 km [620 mile] business flight.114 Conducting virtual meetings to replace remote in person interactions could reduce 20-30 MMT of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, 115 providing gross savings of $5-10 billion from reduced spending on fuel for airplanes.116


Similarly, teleconferencing is also an essential component to telehealth programs and distance learning programs, expanding opportunities for both patients and students to use their computers as a gateway to higher quality resources that might not be available without wasteful long-distance travel.


Broadband-supported applications can also help reduce everyday travel associated with employment. Telecommuting or flex work, combined with labor protections to prevent unmonitored “electronic sweatshops” from arising, can potentially be a key contributor to a greener economy. Telecommuting creates substantial savings across the economy and the environment, such as helping businesses reduce, or more efficiently use, their office space,117 and allowing employees to save on gas and commuting time. However, it is important to note that a rebound effect may occur where individuals increase other travel or energy use, thus reducing some of the direct benefits of telecommuting. For example, telecommuters often make additional vehicle trips to run errands that could have been done more efficiently during their work commute.118 Further, telecommuters may increase their personal use of additional energy, such as powering electronic equipment or air conditioning their home when they would have been at work.119 It is estimated that after considering both the direct benefits and rebound effects,120 flex work could save $15-30 billion to the U.S. economy and reduce carbon emissions by 50 to 100 MMT.121


E-Commerce and Virtual Distribution of Information Goods

The intersection of broadband with commerce leads to energy reductions throughout the economy. Since the inception of the Internet, electronic commerce (e-commerce) has grown exponentially,122 and retailers, even in rural areas, can reach out to the entire connected world as a potential consumer base.


This new business frontier not only allows businesses to expand their reach, but it can also benefit the environment by reducing negative emissions associated with traditional off-line shopping. For example, e-commerce can reduce the number of car trips consumers take to and from stores to purchase goods, conduct price comparisons, or do product research.123


In certain circumstances the Internet has replaced the need for actual physical production or transportation of goods, reducing pollution.124 A study by the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research found that a reduction in plastics saved from downloading music and videos and the decrease in office paper use due to the proliferation of email and electronic documents could reduce emissions by an estimated 67.2 million tons.125 Internet businesses, such as iTunes, which allow the downloading of music and videos, not only reduce the use of packaging materials and actual products, but circumvent environmental harms associated with traditional product transport. 126 According to the California Broadband Initiative, if half of today’s movie rentals were accessed by video-on-demand, the country could save the equivalent of 200,000 households’ annual electricity consumption.127


Further, the availability of online media options provides traditionally disenfranchised communities with accessible forums to express themselves, forums that often have lower economic costs than traditional media outlets and produce less environmental harm.128 “The Internet has the ability to turn retail buildings into Web sites,” observes analyst Joseph Romm, “and to turn warehouses into better supply chain software, to dematerialize paper and CD’s into electrons, and to turn trucks into fiber optic cables.”129

Improving the Energy Efficiency of the

Broadband Network

One real concern is that broadband networks and online applications powered by massive server farms and devices could themselves become an environmental danger given their own heavy energy needs. However, the Climate Group argues that information and communications technologies should potentially enable energy efficiencies in other sectors that would deliver carbon savings far beyond what it produces itself in 2020.130


Further, careful substitution of less efficient information and communication technologies devices with those that are more efficient can help the sector regulate its own energy consumption.131 For example, in 2008, Dell announced that it had “met its carbon neutral goal,”132 and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group hosted its first Data Center Energy Efficiency (DCEE) Summit on Sun Microsystems’ Santa Clara campus.133


It is time that we embrace a 21st century energy strategy. The Recovery Act is a good step towards incorporating broadband and information communication technologies into our national energy reduction and economic growth goals. Utilizing smart technologies that minimize wasted energy and increase efficient energy use, such as smart grids, smart devices and smart building technology, can reduce peak energy demand, pollutants, and grid unreliability, while also producing economic savings.


Furthermore, broadband and advanced communication technologies can reduce energy used due to travel. Telehealth, long-distance communication programs and e-commerce can all leverage broadband-supported applications to replace basic everyday carbon-intensive activities with more environmentally-friendly alternatives.


However, realizing the green future outlined in this paper will require the implementation of well-designed public policies that not only promote increased use of the technologies detailed above, but also provide strong consumer and labor protections to assure that households and individuals benefit from their deployment. The United States must better coordinate broadband deployment efforts, address the digital divide, and assure upfront affordability of climate-friendly technologies that will produce savings over the long-term. These efforts will set the United States apart as a global leader in technology investment and energy conservation, and ultimately fuel a robust and competitive green economic future.


Overall, broadband and associated communication technologies can play a critical role in greening the economy by supporting applications and technologies that promote energy efficiencies and creating the possibility of a large drop in energy use intensity.134


1. Litos Strategic Communication. The Smart Grid: An Introduction. 2008. U.S. Department of Energy. (accessed on 16 Nov. 2009), 13.

2. Energy Information Administration. Annual Energy Outlook 2009: With Projections to 2030. Mar. 2009. (21 Dec. 2009), 5.

3. “U.S. carbon emissions today total around 6.0 billion tons and if trends continue they will reach 6.4 billion tons by 2020.” Climate Group, “SMART 2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age, 2008, U.S. Addendum, Report Summary,” Climate Group (19 Jun. 2008);, 8. See also, “A composite of official U.S. government agency projections indicates that if unchecked, annual greenhouse gas emissions will increase from 7.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) to 9.7 gigatons by 2030.” McKinsey and Co., “Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?,” McKinsey and Co. (Dec. 2007);, v.

4. Climate Group, 6.

5. Litos Strategic Communication, “The Smart Grid: An Introduction,” 11.

6. Climate Group, 35.

7. Cited in Rintels, Jonathan, ”˜Using Technology and Innovation to Address Our Nation’s Critical Challenges.”

8. Federal Communications Commission. National Broadband Plan Task Force Status Report to Commission. Sept. 2009. Federal Communications Commission. edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-293742A1.pdf (accessed on 19 Nov. 2009), 35.

9. Energy Information Administration. Using and Saving Energy. Department of Energy. (accessed on 16 Dec. 2009).

10. Litos Strategic Communication, The Smart Grid: An Introduction, 13.

11. Climate Group, 8.

12. “U.S. carbon emissions today total around 6.0 billion tons and if trends continue they will reach 6.4 billion tons by 2020.” Climate Group, 8. “A composite of official US government agency projections indicates that if unchecked, annual greenhouse gas emissions will increase from 7.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2005 to 9.7 gigatons by 2030.” McKinsey and Co., v.

13. Climate Group, 6.

14. Fuhr Jr., Joseph P. and Stephen B. Pociask, “Broadband Services: Economic and Environmental Benefits,” The American Consumer Institute (31 Oct. 2007); servicos/informacao-e-documentacao/biblioteca-digital/redes-e-servicos-de-comunicacoes/Final.pdf, 1.

15. Federal Communications Commission, 35.

16. Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Home Broadband Adoption 2009,” Pew Research Center (Oct. 2009);, 17-8.

17. For example, critical infrastructure experts have highlighted the risk of cyber-attacks on the electricity infrastructure. Our current communications infrastructure places limits on countermeasures that can be employed to protect the power grid. However, if improved, broadband can be utilized in the power grid, “stronger encryption, and other counter-measures can protect the grid from cyber attacks.” Swire, Peter, “Smart Grid, Smart Broadband, Smart Infrastructure,” Center for American Progress (8 Apr. 2009);, 4.

18. Smart Energy Labs, “Why GridWise® The Case for Modernizing the Nation’s Electricity Grid,” Smart Energy Labs; why-gridwiseae-the-case-for-modernizing-the-nation2019s-electricity-grid.

19. Coppa, Brian, “ How smart is the Smart Grid: benefits for power consumers,” Phoenix Green Business Examiner (11 Aug. 2009);

20. Litos Strategic Communication, The Smart Grid: An Introduction, 7.

21. National Energy Technology Laboratory. The Value of Electricity When It’s Not Available. May 2003. U.S. Department of Energy.’s_Not_Available.pdf (accessed on 20 Nov. 2009), 2.

22. Keogh, Miles, “The Smart Grid: Frequently Asked Questions for State Commissions, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners,” National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (May 2009);, 3.

23., “Get the Facts, The Truth About Smart Grid,” (2009);

24. Lordan, R., “Power Delivery System of the Future: A Preliminary Estimate of Costs and Benefits,” EPRI (Jul. 2004);, 5-1.

25. National Energy Technology Laboratory. Modern Grid Initiative, A Systems View of the Modern Grid. 2007. U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. Final_v2_0.pdf (accessed on 18 Nov. 2009), 18.

26. Hendricks, Bracken, “Wired for Progress: Building a National Clean-Energy Smart Grid,” Center for American Progress (Feb. 2009);, 2-3.

27. Talbot, David, “Lifeline for Renewable Power,” MIT Technology Review (2009);, 1.


29. Litos Strategic Communication, The Smart Grid: An Introduction, 11.

30. Electricity Advisory Committee. Smart Grid: Enabler of the New Energy Economy. 2008. U.S. Department of Energy. (accessed on 16 Dec. 2009), 10.

31. Swire, 8.

32. Kiesling, Lynne, “Smart Savings,” Science in Society (20 Sept. 2008); /content/articles/2008/kiesling/smart-savings.

33. Casey, Tom, “Get Smart on the Smart Grid: How Technology Can Revolutionize Efficiency and Renewable Solutions. Testimony of Tom Casey Chief Executive Officer CURRENT Group, LLC,” before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, U.S. House of Representatives (Washington DC: 25 Feb. 2009),

34. Singer, Joel, “Enabling Tomorrow’s Electricity System,” Ontario Smart Grid Forum (Feb. 2009);, 34.

35. Keogh, 6.

36. Honorable Frederick B. Butler Commission, “Testimony of the Honorable Frederick F. Butler Commission, New Jersey Board of Public Utility Commissioners on ”˜Smart Grid’,” before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Washington DC: 3 Mar. 2009), See also “[W]hile the smart meter may have become the “poster child” for the smart grid, advanced sensors, synchro-phasors, and distribution automation systems are examples of equipment that are likely to be even more important in harnessing the value of smart grid.” Keogh, 4.

37. Hendricks, 2.

38. Climate Group, 47.

39. Hendricks, 4.

40. Vajjhala, Shalini P., “Sitting Difficulty and Renewable Energy Development: A Case of Gridlock?,” Resources (2007);, 1.

41. U.S. Department of Energy. 20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply. 2008. U.S. Department of Energy. (accessed on 17 Dec. 2009), 20.

42. Hendricks, 4.

43. Ibid.

44. “Joint System Coordination Plan 2008”;

45. Electric Power Research Institute, 42. See also, Litos Strategic Communication. How the Smart Grid Promotes a Greener Future. 2009. U.S. Department of Energy. (accessed on 18 Dec. 2009), 11.

46. Hendricks, 2-3.

47. Hendricks, 2.

48. The Center for American Progress defines Smart Grid as a system that “combines advances in information technology with innovations in power-systems management to create a significantly more efficient distribution system for electrical energy. A smart grid would accommodate decentralized power production from renewable sources; directly interface with equipment, appliances, and electrical vehicles to improve energy efficiency; and redistribute energy supply to accommodate unexpected surges in use and avoid mass outages.” Pollin, R., Garrett-Peltier, H., Heintz, J. and Scharber, H., “Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy,” Center for American Progress (Sept. 2008);, 34.

49. Keogh, 5.

50. In the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Proposed Policy Statement and Action Plan, the Commission — which has jurisdiction over the nation’s transmission and bulk power system — discusses not only smart grid capabilities that may enhance the efficiency and reliability of the transmission system, but also contemplates the benefits of smart grid deployment at the distribution level. For example, in discussing the importance of demand response in addressing challenges for bulk-power transmission systems, the Commission states “it is clear that communication and coordination across the interfaces between the utility and its customers can have a significant impact on the bulk-power system, particularly as new renewable power and climate policy initiatives introduce the need for more flexibility in the electricity grid, which creates the need for increased reliance on demand response and electricity storage,” with such storage ultimately being located on customer premises. The Commission also identifies effective communication and coordination across inter-system interfaces (e.g., transmission and distribution system interfaces) as a priority. The Commission states that “effective communication and coordination occurs when each of the systems understands and can respond to the data provided by the other system, even if the internal workings of each system are quite different,” and enabling such inter-system communication is “key to the attainment of renewable power and climate policy goals and can help enable customers to manage their energy usage and cost.” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Proposed Policy Statement and Action Plan. 19 Mar. 2009. Department of Energy. (accessed on 21 Dec. 2009).

51. Hendricks, vii. See also U.S. Department of Energy, 20% Wind Energy by 2030: Increasing Wind Energy’s Contribution to U.S. Electricity Supply, 20.

52. State of New York Public Service Commission. Order Adopting Minimum Functional Requirements for Advanced Metering Infrastructure Systems and Initiating an Inquiry into the Benefit-Cost Methodologies. State of New York Public Service Commission. DATE.{16310751-0A41-401D-BFE5-7E95F5B3869D} (accessed on 21 Dec. 2009), 18.

53. Ibid. See also, “AMI deployment alone will not produce the benefits of a comprehensive digital smart grid.” State of Illinois Commerce Commission, “Order, Docket No. 07-0566” (10 Sept. 2008);, 140.

54. Warwick, Michael, “If Buildings Could Talk: How Information Technology Can Increase Energy Efficiency and Demand Management in Buildings,” U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Building Research and Standards (26 Apr. 2002);, 4.

55. California Energy Commission. Public Interest Energy Strategies Report. Dec. 2003. State of California. (accessed on 18 Dec. 2009), 83.

56. Warwick, 10. See also “Full Committee Oversight Hearing: to receive testimony on the process of smart grid initiatives and technologies (SD-106): Edward Lu, Google Inc.,” before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Washington DC: 3 Mar 2009),, 2.

57. Lu, Edward, “Full Committee Oversight Hearing: to receive testimony on the process of smart grid initiatives and technologies (SD-106): Edward Lu, Google Inc.,” before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Washington DC: 3 Mar 2009),, 2.

58. Warwick, 10.

59. Spees, Kathleen, “Meeting Meeting Electric Peak on the Demand Side: Wholesale and Retail Market Impacts of Real-Time Pricing and Peak Load Management Policy,” PhD diss., Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Institute of Technology, (2008);, 46.

60. U.S. Department of Energy. Benefits of Demand Response in Electricity Markets and Recommendations for Achieving Them. Feb. 2006. U.S. Department of Energy. (accessed on 20 Dec. 2009), 6. See also, “Study shows that load shifting would reduce peak load dramatically, obviating the need for costly investment in generation and transmission”. Spees, 48.

61. Ibid, 105.

62. “However, policymakers should be cautious in attributing environmental benefits to dynamic pricing because they are dependent on the emissions profile and marginal operating cost of generation plants in specific areas and because green house gas reduction during peak periods need to be balanced against potential increases in emissions during off-peak hours as well as from use of onsite generation.” U.S. Department of Energy, Benefits of Demand Response in Electricity Markets and Recommendations for Achieving Them, 29.

63. Lu, 2.

64. Climate Group, 35.

65. Waltner, Charles, “Smart Buildings Offering Clever Ways to Reduce Energy Consumption,” Cisco Systems News (21 Jul. 2008);

66. IBM Green Buildings, “Green Buildings are Smart Buildings,” IBM;

67. U.S. Green Building Council, “Green Building Research,” U.S. Green Building Council (2009);

68. Climate Group, 35. See also, Center for American Progress, “It’s Easy Being Green: Smart Buildings for Future Skylines,” Center for American Progress (21 Jan. 2009);

69. Ibid.

70. Center for American Progress, “It’s Easy Being Green: Smart Buildings for Future Skylines.”

71. Khaund, Konkana, “Aiming for Smart Convergence - The coming together of Smart Grid and Smart Buildings,” Frost & Sullivan (25 Aug. 2009);

72. Waltner, “Smart Buildings Offering Clever Ways to Reduce Energy Consumption”

73. Morgan, Rick, “Rethinking ”˜Dumb’ Rates,” Public Utilities Fortnightly, (March 2009);, 34-8.

74. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Assessment of Demand Response and Advanced Metering. Aug. 2006. U.S. Department of Energy. (accessed on 17 Nov. 2009), 31.

75. Morgan, 34-8.

76. Smith, Rebecca, “Smart Meter, Dumb Idea?,” The Wall Street Journal Online, (27 Apr. 2009);

77. Gasser, Jerry, “Critics Charge ”˜Smart Meters’ Could Hurt Poor”,, (2007);

78. Morgan, 34-8.

79. “The immediate requirements of AMI may not in themselves require high performance embedded communications. This can lead to a choice of wireless infrastructure as having lowest initial costs and comparable or lower ongoing costs. However, these technologies are not ”˜future proofed’ and may not be able to support some of the capabilities described above as tied to high performance, ease of getting beyond the meter, and detection of power line anomalies”¦.” KEMA, “Enabling the Power Plexus,” KEMA;

80. State of New York Public Service Commission, 18.

81. Melnbardis, Robert, “Power Deregulation Fueled Pollution,” EnergyEfficient.Net (19 Jun. 2002);

82. Sargent, Rob, “News Release: Anniversary of Blackout of 2003 Approaches: Public Interest Group Proposes Fixes to Flaws in Electric System,” U.S. PIRG (30 Jul. 2004);

83. Goings, Gloria P, ed. Employment and Earnings: Table B-3. Vol. 55, No. 12. Dec. 2008. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (accessed on 18 Dec. 2009), 56-9.

84. “SmartGridCity becomes first fully functioning smart city in the world,” Electric Energy Online; (9 Sept. 2009);

85. Boulder named ”˜Smart Grid City, Denver Business Journal,

86. Berst, Jesse, “Trilliant Acquisition Signals Next Phase of Smart Grid,” SmartGridNews.Com 27 May 2009); Signals_Next_Phase_of_Smart_Grid-593.html.

87. Berst, “Trilliant Acquisition Signals Next Phase of Smart Grid.”

88. Madrigal, Alexis, “City Wifi Tech Gets New Green Lease on Life,” Wired, (29 May 2009);

89. For example, the Ontario Smart Grid Forum cautions “initiatives on conservation, renewable generation and smart meters begin the move towards a new electricity system, but their full promise will not be realized without the advanced technologies that make the smart grid possible”¦. While new grid infrastructure will be necessary to connect generation resources, replace aging assets and address growth, simply adding wires and equipment without intelligence is not a viable option.... Even with the requirement to communicate with all consumers”¦ however the communication systems that the utilities are developing for smart meters will not be adequate to support full smart grid development. The communications needs associated with the collection of meter data are different from those of grid operations. Additional bandwidth and redundant service will be needed for grid operations because of the quantity of operational data, the speed required to use it and its criticality.” Singer, 35.

90. Lightner, Eric, Smart Grid Activities at the Department of Energy. Aug. 2009. U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. ws_eng_env_trans/ws_eng_env_trans_lightner.pdf (accessed on 16 Dec. 2009).

91. Swire, 7.

92. AT&T, “Press Release: AT&T to Offer Wireless Smart Grid Technology to Utility Companies,” AT&T (17 Mar. 2009); articleid=26613.

93. Ricketts, Camille, “AT&T partners with SmartSynch to bring the smart grid to your neighborhood,” VentureBeat (17 Mar. 2009);

94. National Energy Technology Laboratory, “A System View of the Modern Grid, Appendix B, Integrated Communications,” U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (Feb. 2007);, B1-4.

95. Anderson, F., Edens, G., Harris, J., “Opportunities for Smart Grid Technologies Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA),” McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP (20 Mar. 2009);

96. Ibid.

97. Sissine, Fred. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, A Summary of Major Provisions. Dec. 2007. Congressional Research Service. RL342941.pdf (14 Nov. 2009). See also, President Obama has consistently supported acceleration of smart grid deployment by emphasizing the need for electric grid modernization and recently stated that a Smart Grid will “save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation.” Obama, Barack, “Dramatic action,” Change.Gov: The Office of the President Elect (8 Jan. 2009);

98. Keogh, 4.

99. Lordan, R., “Power Delivery System of the Future: A Preliminary Estimate of Costs and Benefits,” EPRI (Jul. 2004);, 5-1.

100. Atkinson, R., Castro, D., Ezell, S., “The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America,” Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (7 Jan. 2009);, 2.

101. Ray, William, “An Elegant Solution, Ignored,” The Red, Blue, & Green (25 Mar. 2008);

102. “[A] megawatt is equal to 1,000 kilowatts and the average home in Glasgow requires about 10 kilowatts of capacity, so, a megawatt would serve about 100 Glasgow homes.” (Ibid.)

103. Rintels, Jonathan, “Using Technology and Innovation to Address Our Nation’s Critical Challenges,” The Benton Foundation (2009);; 15.

104. University of Miami Telehealth, “Benefits of Telehealth,” University of Miami (2007);

105. Litan, Robert, “Vital Signs via Broadband: Remote Health Monitoring Transmits Savings, Enhances Lives,” Better Health Care Together;, 14, 53.

106. Baller, Jim and Lide, Casey, “Bigger Vision, Bolder Action, Brighter Future: Capturing the Promise of Broadband for North Carolina and America,” The e-NC Authority (June 2008);, 21.

107. Cited in Rintels, Jonathan, ”˜Using Technology and Innovation to Address Our Nation’s Critical Challenges.”

108. Litan, 15.

109. Cited in Rintels, Jonathan, ”˜Using Technology and Innovation to Address Our Nation’s Critical Challenges.”

110. Madison, Erin, “Video network brings city expertise to rural health care facilities,” Great Falls Tribune, 26 Apr 2009, Sec. A5.

111. Baller and Lide, 22.

112. Rintels, 17.

113. Climate Group, 42.

114. Fuhr and Pociask, 40.

115. California Climate Change Portal, “Conversion of 1 MMT of CO2 to Familiar Equivalents,” State of California (25 Sept. 2006);

116. Climate Group, 42. See also that if 10% of air travel could be replaced by teleconferencing, 77.9 billion miles could be saved, which would reduce greenhouse emissions by 36.3 million tons. Fuhr and Pociask, 40.

117. Sedgewick, Ross, “Green and Beyond: The Hard and Soft Benefits of Telecommuting,” IT Business Edge (1 Jun. 2009);

118. Climate Group, 40.

119. Ibid.

120. These figures do not account for “opportunists” effects, such as people who decide to drive once traffic is reduced or the potential increase in urban sprawl that may occur since individuals do not have to worry about their commute time. Ibid.

121. Ibid.

122. Fuhr and Pociask, 8.

123. It is worth noting that energy-intensive airmail delivery can nearly eliminate the environmental benefit of e-commerce. Fowler, Geoffrey A. “The Green Side of Online Shopping,” Wall Street Journal, 3 (Mar. 2009); See also, Fuhr and Pociask, 10, 13.

124. Fuhr and Pociask, 2.

125. Ibid.

126. Ibid, 9.

127. California Broadband Taskforce. Building Innovation through Broadband: Final Report of the California Broadband Task Force. 2008. State of California. (accessed on 16 Nov. 2009).

128. Fuhr and Pociask, 2.

129. Ibid, 29.

130. “[Globally,] the power sector accounted for 24% of emissions in 2002 and could be responsible for 14.26 GtCO2 (e) in 2020. The potential for information and communication technology to reduce carbon emissions through smart grid technology could be substantial -- 2.03GtCO2(e).” Climate Group, 10.

131. Ibid, 53.

132. Dell Inc., “Press Release: Dell Meets Carbon Neutral Goal Ahead of Schedule,” Dell, Inc. (6 Aug. 2008); See also, “While Dell’s program is widely praised by environmental groups as one of the most comprehensive attempts by a major corporation to combat climate change, there are some who raise questions about the companies carbon neutral claim.” Spector, Lincoln, “Questions raised about Dell’s carbon neutral claim,” The Industry Standard, (30 Dec. 2008);

133. Silicon Valley Leadership Group, “Data Center Energy Efficiency Project,” Silicon Valley Leadership Group (2009);

134. Romm, Joseph, “The Internet and the New Energy Economy,” Center for Energy and Climate Solutions: Global Environment and Technology Foundation (2002); Evision/Supplement/romm.pdf, 15-18.



Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI)
Measures and records energy usage, providing periodic information regarding energy consumption
to both the consumer and the utility.


The delivering of energy to consumers.


Period of low energy demand.


Period of high energy demand.

Smart Grid Technology

The ability to develop, store, send and receive digital information concerning electricity use, costs,
prices, time of use, nature of use, storage or other information, relevant to device, grid, or utility operation to or from or by means of the electric utility system computer, or other control device. in order to synthesize or report consumption information by digital means, manage and modify electricity demand, enable congestion management, assist in voltage control, provide operating reserves, provide frequency regulation, and anticipate and respond to system disturbances.

Smart meter

A smart meter is only one of the hundreds applications that constitute the smart grid. The smart
meter is a device within the smart grid system that establishes a connection between the customer and the power company. Once the smart meter is installed, power companies can determine the location of outages more easily, and no longer need to send staff to read meters, or to turn the power on or off at a particular property. But the smart meter is only the first step. Other components of the smart grid, like thermostats, give people a much clearer view of the amount of electricity that they are consuming, in addition to alerting them of the costs, subsequently encouraging them to adjust their usage. In other words, through smart meters, consumers will access information, but with other smart grid technologies, they will also be able to set temperature preferences or opt in or out of programs that let them use clean energy sources such as wind or solar power.


The movement or transfer of electric energy between points of supply or generation and points at
which it is transformed for delivery to the consumer.

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