Demand response (DR) portfolios of electric utilities across the U.S. continue to expand as they refine their programs and explore new options to support grid reliability in response to the changing resource mix. The role of DR in planning and operations is expected to increase as the resource mix continues to evolve with increasing generation from natural gas, wind, solar, battery storage, and other emerging distributed energy technologies.
Legislation enacted across U.S. states so far in 2021 reflects the evolving discussion around a wide range of policies ranging from accelerating the transition to cleaner energy and strengthening emissions reduction targets, to enhancing grid resilience, and preempting municipal natural gas bans. Delaware enacted legislation to increase the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for regulated…...
Visual Primer: Performance-Based Regulation Expands to Advance Clean Energy Transition, Serve Social Goals
Performance-based regulation (PBR) continues to evolve in the face of transformational changes brought about by new technologies, changing customer preferences, and state policy mandates. Recent actions range from Hawaii’s approval of performance incentive mechanisms to accelerate clean energy goals, the District of Columbia’s ratemaking pilot that contains climate goals-driven tracking mechanisms, and Washington’s law to move towards PBR to help utilities adapt to rapidly changing societal expectations and public policy objectives.
Grid modernization endeavors are progressing at a fast pace as states explore solutions to advance clean energy and climate goals while effectively meeting customer needs. Modernizing the grid is necessary to support the integration of additional levels of renewables, leverage customer-sited resources to participate in grid operations, and empower consumers with more choices for electric service.
Visual Primer: Rapidly Evolving Cyber Threat Landscape Reignites Concerns About Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability
A recent ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline system, which supplies nearly half the fuel consumed on the East Coast, has elevated concerns about the use of cyberattacks to paralyze key infrastructure. The incident is the latest example of intrusions exposing U.S. cyber vulnerabilities, calling for stronger measures to secure the nation’s energy pipelines and critical infrastructure against increasingly sophisticated and malicious attacks.
Washington is moving expeditiously to implement rules and strategies as the state seeks to achieve carbon-free electricity by 2045 and reduce emissions to net zero by 2050. The state is advancing multiple measures ranging from resource planning rules to establishing a carbon cap-and-trade program, and strengthening auto-emission standards.
Texas state lawmakers are exploring solutions to address the issues faced during and after the mid-February winter storm event that caused widespread outages across the state. California, which faced a similar predicament due to an unprecedented heatwave in August 2020, albeit smaller in scale and severity, has advanced measures to ensure reliability this summer.
Utility resource planning continues to evolve as state regulators take a holistic approach to evaluate the energy delivery process and strive to provide more transparency in the planning process. Carbon reduction is becoming a key component of integrated resource plans (IRPs) amid the influx of distributed energy resources and new renewable generation under various state programs. IRPs provide an evaluation of utilities’ future electricity needs and potential means to meet the requirements.
The fallout from severe arctic weather during February has prompted regulators from Texas to Montana to examine utility infrastructure, preparedness and response, and impacts to customers. Texas, which experienced the worst power outages resulting from Winter Storm Uri, has issued multiple orders and initiated investigations to address the impacts of the grid event. Following announcements of an inquiry into the grid event and the possibility of market violations, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is now set to examine the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events on electric system reliability. Regulators across several U.S. states are investigating the after-effects of the storm to mitigate bill impacts to customers while exploring cost-recovery for utilities which faced extraordinary expenses as natural gas prices soared to unprecedented levels.
Transportation electrification is gaining momentum across the U.S. as states and utilities continue to implement measures to boost electric vehicle (EV) adoption and expand charging infrastructure. Recent actions range from California’s vehicle-grid integration strategy to Pennsylvania’s rulemaking proposal for a light-duty EV requirement, and a utility-coalition plan for a seamless charging network.
Innovations in energy planning continue to emerge as state regulators devise programs and explore solutions that effectively meet customer needs and support policy goals. Recent state initiatives range from New York’s efforts to align gas planning with climate goals, to Maine’s investigation into the future design of the grid to accommodate growing renewables, and California’s transmission planning guidance to achieve ambitious decarbonization goals.
Net metering policies continue to evolve as state regulators seek to make rate structures more equitable to address cross-subsidy issues arising from the growing penetration of distributed solar generation. Net energy metering (NEM), which credits customer generators for grid-exported power, has been a key component of the policy framework to spur investment in customer-sited renewable energy facilities, including solar and energy storage systems. Successors to original tariffs are considering a range of factors including avoided utility costs, value to the grid, cost-shifting, and energy demand.