Friday, September 11, 2009

Niagara Mohawk Allowed to Keep Cost of "Smart Grid" Proposal Secret

In a ruling yesterday, the PSC allowed Niagara Mohawk to maintain secrecy of the cost of its proposed "smart grid" projects. The costs of the "smart grid" projects would be split between customer funding -- through higher electric rates -- and possible economic stimulus funds requested from the federal government. The ruling states
In its initial request, the Utility sought an exception from public disclosure pursuant to POL §87(2)(d) for: Exhibit 2 (Substation SCADA Equipment Program) and Exhibit 3 (Subtransmission Circuit Breaker Program) of Volume 1; all pricing information in Volume 2 relating to the "Spine" of smart meters, communications technology, in-home energy management, and grid monitoring and automation, together with all information describing seven discrete "Green Modules" designed to take advantage of the Smart Grid services provided by the Spine; and Attachments 8 (Smart Meter Marketing Plan Budget - Spine and Modules), 15 (Hardware and Software Specification), and 17 (Financial Data). On May 18, 2009, the Utility limited its request regarding pages 48 to 65 of its Smart Grid Demonstration Program Proposal so as to prices associated with the Spine and Green Modules. In Volume 3, National Grid provided a compilation of all the allegedly confidential information. In its Appeal, the Utility argued that this information warrants an exception from disclosure under POL §87(2)(c)
The Secretary mainly adhered to her initial decision that the information should be public, but allowed it to be kept secret temporarily. As stated by the Times Union, the PSC Secretary
modified her original decision. She ordered that the smart grid information be kept secret until 60 days after National Grid filed its funding application with the DOE or when the DOE completes its review of the National Grid proposal -- whichever is later.
See Larry Rulison, PSC sides with National Grid -- Agency says financial details of "smart grid" project can stay secret, Times Union, Sept. 11, 2009.

See also, Niagara Mohawk Must Divulge Cost Data Regarding Proposed "Smart Grid - Smart Meter" Projects, PULP Network, August 18, 2009.

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