GreentechMedia: The Top 10 Utility Regulatory Trends of 2018

Posted by Coley Girouard on Jan 18, 2019

GreentechMedia published AEE’s Coley Girouard’s piece spotlighting the top 10 regulatory developments of the past year, giving context on what to watch for in 2019. See the entire Green Tech Media piece here.

In July, we published a list of the top 10 utility regulation trends of 2018  so far. With 2018 behind us, we check in again on the top public utility commission actions and trends of the past year.

Ten prominent trends and actions stand out above the rest, from renewables continuing their downward price trajectory, to approvals for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to exploration of utility business model reforms and non-wires alternatives, to traditional distribution investments. Here is the full roundup of the top 10 matters before public utility commissions in 2018.

1. Renewable energy is winning on price

In 2018, the trend in recent years toward a cleaner, more flexible grid continued. In the first three quarters of the year, there was over $35 billion in new investments in clean energy, as defined by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This trend is driven in large part by the falling costs of wind and solar power...

This continued price decline means it is now often cheaper to build new wind and solar plants than to operate existing coal-fired power plants, a reality expressed in many regulatory filings in 2018. Perhaps most notably, in October Northern Indiana Public Service’s 2018 integrated resource plan found that the utility could save customers $4 billion by replacing its entire coal fleet by 2028 with a portfolio of solar, wind, storage and demand management resources...

2. Electric vehicle investments take the spotlight
According to AEE’s PowerSuite, $58 million in EV utility infrastructure programs were approved in 2017 and $880 million were approved in 2018, with another $1.5 billion proposed in 2018 that are still pending — an upward trend to say the least...

3. Modernization investments to improve the reliability and resiliency of the grid
Grid modernization has long been a buzzword in the electricity industry. It has most commonly referred to investments, such as advanced metering infrastructure, intended to enhance the customer experience and support integration of new advanced energy technologies into the grid. Often overlooked, however, are the reliability and resiliency benefits, which are of increasing importance as the intensity and occurrence of severe weather events persist. Many of these investments also fall under the rubric of “grid hardening,” microgrid and energy storage proposals...

4. Utility business model innovation
Many states have begun to evolve from a traditional cost-of-service regulatory model toward a system that better reflects new market conditions, allows utilities to take advantage of the growing service economy, and rewards performance against established goals rather than inputs...

See the entire GreentechMedia piece  with all Top 10 items here.

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