RAP helped organize a series of meetings and seminars that brought Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), together with more than a dozen representatives from China’s State Electricity Regulatory Commission, the National Reform and Development Commission, the State Grid Electric Research Institute, the State Grid Company, and the China Southern Grid Company. Chairman Wellinghoff’s visit, originally set for the end of June, was rescheduled to coincide with the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geitner invited Chairman Wellinghoff to assist them during the SED before he took part in the six meetings and workshops, which were held in Beijing and Guangzhou in late May 2010.
During a forum on energy efficiency, Chairman Wellinghoff spoke about recent reforms in US wholesale markets and outlined the measures needed to overcome barriers that discourage efficiency investments. This was followed by three workshops on smart grid and its potential to revolutionize the electric industry. In China, unlike the US, smart grid activities are focused on the high-voltage bulk transmission system and the integration of wind and other intermittent renewable resources into system operations and planning. In this sense, smart grid really means strong grid — a grid that can handle the significant transfers and operational complexities that large penetrations of renewable resources impose. The connection between management of the bulk power system and retail demand for service offers real opportunities for new approaches to system operations. These issues and the regulatory policy challenges they raise were explored in detail during the workshops, which were sponsored by the US Department of Energy and the Energy Foundation.