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BPC Releases New Report on Digitizing the Electric Power Sector

Washington, D.C.– The Bipartisan Policy Center today released a new report on digitization of the United States electric grid, analyzing the opportunities and challenges of integrating advances in digital technology such as electronic sensors, big data, and information systems.

Digitizing the Grid: Next Steps on Policy looks to assist government officials with maximizing the benefits and minimizing the costs of digitization in the electric power sector. Further, the report explores how digitization can improve the efficiency, reliability, and performance of the power sector by helping key actors to better predict and respond to change.

“Virtually every facet of our economy depends upon the reliable operation of the electric grid. As more objects become digitally connected and share data as part of a growing ‘internet of things,’ understanding how big data and sensors will impact the power sector is of national significance,” said Tracy Terry, director of BPC’s Energy Project. “Policymakers will be on the frontlines of the digital transformation, and this paper seeks to inform these discussions by identifying the key policy opportunities and challenges surrounding grid digitization.”

The report identifies priorities for near-term action:

  • Establishing a task force, convened by the Department of Energy, to address issues of utility regulation and cost recovery;
  • Including intelligent grid investment as part of national infrastructure legislation;
  • Strengthening federal and industry leadership in cybersecurity;
  • Integrating strategic digital workforce planning with other utility planning;
  • Increasing federal R&D, and incentivizing private-sector R&D on grid digitization; and
  • Conducting a U.S.-specific analysis of the potential public and private benefits of grid digitization.

BPC launched the Digitizing the Power Sector initiative to better understand the challenges and opportunities of digitization as applied to the electricity grid – one of our nation’s most complex infrastructure systems.

This paper is the culmination of a six-month effort that included independent research, a public event with industry leaders, and a stakeholder dialogue.

Read the full report.