Distributed resources – like residential solar, storage, and electric cars – are becoming more mainstream every day. This presents new challenges for utilities and utility regulators who are struggling to capture their benefits, while balancing shareholder interests and reliability.
To help utility commissions around the U.S. navigate the challenges, considerations, and policy developments related to the emergence of distributed energy resources, the National Association of Utility Regulators Association (NARUC) board of directors accepted a rate manual written by its staff subcommittee at its annual meeting. The Distributed Energy Resource Compensation Manual supports a deliberate, reasoned approach to making rate design changes by providing practical guidance to its members. Read More
New installed renewable energy capacity surpassed coal for the first time last year, the International Energy Agency reported recently.
It means that we added more wind and solar to our global energy system than oil, gas, coal or nuclear power combined – a trend that is expected to continue over the next five years.
But to truly transition to a global clean energy economy, we must accelerate this growth rate and modernize our electricity grid to maximize the potential of these new renewables. That way we can use as much clean energy as possible on any given day.
Many of these optimizing solutions already exist today.
They include technology such as powerful batteries that can store energy when renewables don’t produce electricity, for example, when the sun is shaded by a cloud.
There are also energy management tools such as demand response that pay customers for saving energy at critical times when the grid needs it. And innovative electricity pricing programs that encourage customers to shift some of their power use to times of day when clean energy sources are plentiful and electricity is cheaper.
All can, with the help of good policy, make the most of variable energy sources – as would a modernized and more dynamic electric grid. Read More
On November 13, 2016, the nation’s state and federal utility regulators – also known as the National Association of Utility Regulators Association (NARUC) – will meet for their 128th annual meeting in La Quinta, CA and host over 1000 participants. As a former NARUC president and seasoned observer of these meetings, I study the issues that rise to the top for the limited amount of meeting time available. The topics making the cut offer a snapshot of what is trending nationally in the various regulated sectors.
Distributed resources – like residential solar, storage, and electric cars – not long ago nascent technology, are now mainstream. At this year’s NARUC meeting, issues related to the impact of distributed resources on business models and regulation dominate the electricity agenda as states strive to capture their benefits.
The conversation will tackle next-level questions of grid modernization, interconnection, valuation, business models, and rate design. Utility planners aim to correctly set conditions for continued growth in the transforming electricity sector. The meeting topics reveal changed thinking, from fixing “problems” caused by these technologies to maximizing their potential benefits. Read More
By Bret Fanshaw, Solar Program Coordinator, Environment America
This week, Environment America Research & Policy Center is showcasing Shining Rewards, a new review of 16 value-of-solar studies from around the country. The report shows what we already know intuitively: Solar panels provide pollution-free energy that delivers far reaching benefits to people, the environment, the economy, and the electric grid.
Powering homes and businesses with rooftop solar can help communities avoid greenhouse gas emissions, reduce air pollution that’s harmful to public health, and avoid the cost of increasingly expensive fossil fuels.
In our report, we found at least 8 key benefits of rooftop solar, all of which have real value that can be measured by regulators, policymakers, and utilities as the conversation around the future of distributed energy – solutions like rooftop and community solar – evolves. Read More