US grid modernization; momentum builds in third quarter

Published on: November 10, 2017 6:19 amBy: ESJ

Regulatory changes in the offing

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center released its Q3 2017 edition of The 50 States of Grid Modernization on November1. The quarterly series looks at US state regulatory and legislative discussions and actions on grid modernization, utility business model and rate reforms, energy storage, microgrids, and demand response.

The overall picture is that momentum behind the transition away from a carbon based energy economy into one that incorporates renewables and energy storage is picking up — if, as perhaps should be expected, in a disparate and occasionally faltering rate between states.

The report finds that 33 states and Washington DC took some type of action on grid modernization during Q3 2017.

Specifically, the report found that:

  • 38 state or utility proposals in 21 states to implement demand response programs or deploy advanced metering infrastructure, smart grid technologies, microgrids, or energy storage were pending or decided.
  • 20 states considered or enacted changes to policies related to grid modernization, including energy storage targets and clean peak standards.
  • 19 states plus Washington DC took action to study or investigate grid modernization, energy storage, demand response, or rate reform.
  • 15 states plus four regional transmission organizations considered changes to utility planning processes or rules enabling market access.
  • 12 states plus Washington DC took action related to utility business model or rate reforms.
  • Seven states considered adopting new incentives or making changes to existing incentives for energy storage and microgrids.

“Energy storage and other distributed energy resources are playing a large role in grid modernization efforts,” said Autumn Proudlove, lead author of the report and manager of policy research at the centre. “Distributed energy resources are being increasingly viewed as a potential solution, rather than simply a challenge.”

Of the 33 states taking action on grid modernization during the quarter, 26 took actions specifically related to energy storage policies and deployment.

Overall, the most common actions of the quarter related to advanced metering infrastructure, smart grid, and energy storage deployment, followed by grid modernization investigations.

A total of 184 state and utility-level actions related to grid modernization were proposed, pending, or enacted in Q3 2017.

The report says the top five policy developments of Q3 2017 were:

  • Regulatory commissions in New Mexico and Washington amending integrated resource planning rules to require full evaluation of energy storage options;
  • Oregon initiating a broad investigation into grid modernization and utility business models;
  • The Texas Public Utilities Commission considering an ALJ’s proposal for decision that would allow AEP Texas North to own battery storage assets;
  • California’s state legislature enacting a bill requiring utilities to consider the role of storage and other DERs to meet peak demand as part of the integrated resource planning process; and
  • The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s recommendation to open an expansive grid modernization proceeding.

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