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First and Foremost: Are Wireless Meters Mandatory?

Burbank Action

The federal government has set goals for states and utilities to upgrade their electrical grids, and has awarded $4.5 billion in grants to encourage this.  However, the federal government does not mandate the installation of smart meters, or even wireless smart meters.

On February 1, 2011, press officer Thomas Welch of the U.S. Department of Energy press officer responded to questions about whether the federal government has made the installation of wireless smart meters mandatory.  He wrote:No.  The Federal government, including DOE, does not have any role in regulating the installation of smart meters, nor does it have a policy about the mandatory adoption of smart meters.The source of DOE’s response can be found in federal documents and legislation relating to the promotion of the smart grid and smart grid technologies, which does not include any federal mandate for wireless smart meter adoption, and does not include any requirement that smart meters (wireless or wired) should be forced upon all consumers.Which federal documents and legislation?

Let’s follow the trail.

Step 1: First, we go to the Department of Energy and find its document confirming how the Smart Grid upgrade originates in Congress.  Read, “DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: COMMUNICATIONS REQUIREMENTS OF SMART GRID TECHNOLOGIES,” dated October 5, 2010.” 

You can find this document at:http://www.doe.gov/sites/prod/files/gcprod/documents/Smart_Grid_Communications_Requirements_Report_10-05-2010.pdf.   It can also be found on-line at: http://www.doe.gov/gc/downloads/communications-requirements-smart-grid-technologies.

OR: it’s also found down at the very bottom of this screen, click “Download” attachment for DOE document.

Now go to Page 12 to read where it states the source of modernizing the grid — Title XIII of the EISA of 2007:Congress set in motion the federal government’s efforts to modernize the electricity grid in Title XIII of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA).18 Title XIII stated that it is the policy of the United States “to support the modernization of the Nation’s electricity transmission and distribution system to maintain a reliable and secure electricity infrastructure that can meet future demand growth,” and to achieve a variety of specific goals, including the development and deployment of real-time metering and “smart” devices, the integration of distributed energy resources such as renewable energy, and improved management of both energy supply and demand.19 Congress gave DOE primary responsibility for coordinating and funding Smart Grid efforts, along with reporting back to Congress on the progress of Smart Grid Development.20_______________18.  Pub. L. No. 110-140, 121 Stat. 1492.
19.  EISA § 1301.
20.  See EISA §§ 1302-1304, 1306.

Step 2: Next, let’s find the legislation that Congress authored and approved, i.e., the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, or EISA, and Title XIII — Smart Grid.  How do we do that?  See those small footnotes above?  Do a Google search or go to the Library of Congress to find the approved legislation and sections that will reveal how our governmentdoes not mandate smart meters on our homes.  Thus, you’ll find this legislative document at these on-line locations:

  1. a) the Library of Congress website: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/toGPObss/http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-110publ140/pdf/PLAW-110publ140.pdf.
    Click “Continue: to GPO Site” (GPO = Government Printing Office), and go to Page 293 to get to Title XIII at the bottom of the page, “Title XIII – Smart Grid”b) the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources website: http://energy.senate.gov/public/_files/getdoc1.pdf(Go to Page 292 to get to Title XIII – Smart Grid)

At either of these sources, the approved bill will appear as a PDF document. Download/save the document to your computer, then go “TITLE XIII–SMART GRID” on the pages listed above.

  1. c) OR right here: You can also scroll down to the very bottom of this screen and “Download” the attachment (public document).

You will see that no where in this legislation is the deployment of smart meters mandatory.

For instance, go to the top of Section 1301 of EISA of 2007 — read point number 5 regarding metering:

It is the policy of the United States to support the modernization
of the Nation’s electricity transmission and distribution system
to maintain a reliable and secure electricity infrastructure that
can meet future demand growth and to achieve each of the following,
which together characterize a Smart Grid:
(1) Increased use of digital information and controls technology
to improve reliability, security, and efficiency of the
electric grid.
(2) Dynamic optimization of grid operations and resources,
with full cyber-security.
(3) Deployment and integration of distributed resources
and generation, including renewable resources.
(4) Development and incorporation of demand response,
demand-side resources, and energy-efficiency resources.
(5) Deployment of ‘‘smart’’ technologies (real-time, automated,
interactive technologies that optimize the physical operation
of appliances and consumer devices) for metering, communications
concerning grid operations and status, and distribution

(6) Integration of ‘‘smart’’ appliances and consumer devices.
(7) Deployment and integration of advanced electricity storage
and peak-shaving technologies, including plug-in electric
and hybrid electric vehicles, and thermal-storage air conditioning.
(8) Provision to consumers of timely information and control
(9) Development of standards for communication and interoperability
of appliances and equipment connected to the electric
grid, including the infrastructure serving the grid.
(10) Identification and lowering of unreasonable or unnecessary
barriers to adoption of smart grid technologies, practices,
and services…

Then there is Section 1301 of EISA 2007 which also mentions metering that mentions developing but not mandating:


in consultation with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
and other appropriate agencies, electric utilities, the States,
and other stakeholders, shall carry out a program
(1) to develop advanced techniques for measuring peak
load reductions and energy-efficiency savings from smart
metering, demand response, distributed generation, and electricity
storage systems…
Step 3: Preceding EISA is the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that also does not mandate the use of smart meters at our homes.  FYI: EISA of 2007 expands on the EPA of 2005.   Check out the EPA of 2005 by going to:

  1. a) the EPA Website: http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/laws/epa.html
    In the right hand column, you will see a link to the EPA of 2005, or just click here: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_bills&docid=f:h6enr.txt.pdf
    For convenience, you can also scroll down to the very bottom of this screen page and download the Attachment (EPA of 2005).
    Look at Section 1252 found on pages 370-374.
    There is no mandate for smart meters on our homes.
  2. b) the GPO has a link to the bill:

Click “Continue to GPO Site” to see bill.
Look at Section 1252 on pages 662-673.
There is no mandate for smart meters on our homes.

Step 4: You can also go here to see legislation and laws related to the Smart Grid and Federal energy management and goals, including Executive Order13514 (2009) and  Executive Order 13423 (2007), which do not include any mandate for installing smart meters; see http://www.epa.gov/oaintrnt/energy/fedreq.htm=========================================================In addition, in the DOE mentioned above in Step 1, proceed to Page 13 (excerpt below) where the DOE explains that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the the regulatory agency responsible for smart grid standards. However, make sure to read the footnote that also explains how FERC issued a policy statement that states how these standards are not mandatory:
Specifically, under EISA, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent regulatory agency, has the responsibility to institute rulemaking proceedings to adopt standards necessary to insure “functionality and interoperability in interstate transmission of electric power, and regional and wholesale electricity markets.26_______________26.  EISA § 1305(d). EISA directs FERC to initiate rulemakings for adoption of Smart Grid standards when it determines that the standards identified in the NIST framework development efforts have sufficient consensus. On July 16, 2009, FERC issued a Policy Statement on Smart Grid Policy that acknowledged that EISA does not make any such standards mandatory and gave FERC no new authority to enforce such standards. Smart Grid Policy Statement, 128 F.E.R.C. ¶61,337, at 61,060–359 (Jul. 16, 2009).If you want to show a copy to your elected officials the above referenced FERC Smart Grid Policy Statement, “128 FERC ¶ 61,060, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION, 18 CFR Chapter I, [Docket No. PL09-4-000], Smart Grid Policy (Issued July 16, 2009), you can find it on-line at: http://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/comm-meet/2009/071609/E-3.pdf
OR: it’s also down at the very bottom of this screen, click “Download” for FERC document.
Go to page 18 to read this: …the Commission finds that EISA grants the Commission the authority to adopt smart grid standards—such as meter communications protocols or standards—that affect all facilities, including those that relate to distribution facilities and devices deployed at the distribution level, if the Commission finds that such standards are necessary for smart grid functionality and interoperability in interstate transmission of electric power, and in regional and wholesale electricity markets.23. EISA, however, does not make any standards mandatory and does not give the Commission authority to make or enforce any such standards. Under current law, the Commission’s authority, if any, to make smart grid standards mandatory must derive from the FPA. Similarly, its authority to allow rate recovery of smart grid costs must derive from the FPA.   [FPA = Federal Power Act.]

For other Department of Energy Smart Grid documents and developments, go to the DOE Smart Grid website: http://energy.gov/smart-grid.


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