By Jesse Berst
Perhaps the U.S. Congress's inability to reach consensus is caused by a disease that is spreading. Certainly the recent ruling from FERC on standards sounded eerily similar to the brain-dead nonsense that gushes from the mouths of federal policymakers.
In that decision, FERC decided not to set rules adopting five of the smart grid standards "families" that have been in the works since 2009.That's bad enough, but perhaps it's justified. FERC claims that almost everyone who commented on the standards recommended against adoption. Commenters fear the standards are too immature and too insecure.
But FERC also failed to give any guidance on what happens next. Whether the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) should continue to work on the standards. Whether and when FERC should reconsider them. Whether we should just give up and pack it in. (Vote in today's Quick Poll to tell us what you think should happen next.)
Utilities are the ones most at risk. Rather than lean on approved standards, they'll have to decide on their own just which approach to use. Equally troublesome, they'll have less leverage with vendors to insist on certain protocols and standards. That leaves them vulnerable to getting locked in by vendors with proprietary or semi-proprietary approaches to standards.
Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com. He consults to smart grid companies seeking market entry advice and M&A advisory. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the US and abroad, he also serves on the Advisory Council of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Energy & Environment directorate.
More on this topic ...
Complete text of FERC interoperability standards decision
Renew Grid news coverage