The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) made the decision on July 19 to not conduct a rulemaking on the first group of proposed technical standards for the smart grid, citing a lack of consensus among electric utilities, telecommunications companies, and equipment manufacturers. The commission’s decision sends the matter back to the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the lead agency for developing technical standards for the smart grid. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires FERC to conduct a rulemaking that would apply to the electric industry and other stakeholders if FERC is satisfied that the NIST product has led to “sufficient consensus” on smart grid interoperability standards for the electric grid. NIST welcomed FERC’s decision to leave the standard-setting process to NIST and industry stakeholders. The effect will be to place a tremendous importance on the activities of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP), consisting of government and industry participants established by NIST to develop a consensus on the hundreds of technical standards that will be required over the next several years. The construction of the smart grid, defined as providing instant two-way communication between electricity suppliers and customers, remains a top priority of the Obama administration, which has provided $4.5 billion in stimulus funds for smart grid development over the next three years. Private investment brings the total to about $11 billion.