By Andrew Barbeau, senior clean energy consultant
How does the electric utility fit in to a rapidly-evolving energy system? That’s what the Illinois Commerce Commission is trying to determine with its new effort, “NextGrid.” Together, we’re rethinking the roles of the utility, the customer, and energy solution providers in a 21st-century electric grid.
In some ways, NextGrid will follow in the footsteps of New York’s innovative Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) process, a multi-year effort to re-examine how electric utilities and customers interact. A new approach is essential to accelerating the adoption of clean energy technologies and services in the state.
Like REV, NextGrid is gaining national attention for stakeholder-driven processes to reveal new ways to value distributed energy resources (DER), like rooftop solar and batteries. New York and Illinois’ efforts also seek alternatives to simply building more and more wires, poles, and power plants to meet the energy needs of tomorrow.
Yet, Illinois is may go a few steps beyond New York, creating a comprehensive framework for utilities to measure how DER are making the grid smarter and more efficient. Here is what we know will happen so far.