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Midwest PUC Staff Discuss Grid Mod, System Planning

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Midwest Public Utility Commission Staff Gather to Discuss Distribution System Planning for a Modern Electricity Grid

Washington, D.C., April 7, 2017 – Two dozen staff from public utility commissions across the Midwestern states gathered in Chicago to discuss electricity system distribution planning and modernizing the grid at a forum facilitated by Advanced Energy Economy Institute last week. This meeting was a follow-up to a similar meeting of Midwest public utility commissioners last year.

The gathering of 24 commission staff from nine Midwest states (Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) also discussed related issues around rate design and utility business models. Session topics were selected in advance by the commissions, reflecting their interest in the latest technology advancements, the growth of distributed energy resources (like storage, demand response and solar), evolving customer expectations, and the evolution of system planning processes.

“AEE Institute’s PUC Forum provided staff with excellent resources within a very interactive environment. A thought-provoking experience that will surely assist our state with exploring distribution planning solutions,” said Patrick Hudson Manager, Smart Grid Section Operations and Wholesale Markets Division, Michigan Public Service Commission.

“The forum provided an indispensable opportunity to meet and connect with my counterparts in other states and to form connections that I’ll be able to call on in the future,” said Tricia DeBleeckere, Planning Director for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and lead staffer on Minnesota’s grid modernization efforts.

“This was a truly unique opportunity to hear the perspectives of utility commission staff from around the region and lessons learned. We’ll be using what we gathered to inform our efforts on PowerForward, Ohio’s review of technology and regulatory innovation to modernize the grid and enhance the customer electricity experience,” said Krystina Schaefer, the Chief of Grid Modernization & Security for the Ohio Public Utilities Commission.

“As Illinois embarks on its NextGrid Utility of the Future Study, it was invaluable to learn about successes and challenges from my counterparts in other states that are further along in the process,” said Meagan Pagels, Advisor to the Chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Discussions also touched on advanced energy technologies such as advanced metering infrastructure and advanced grid analytics; demand response, energy efficiency and enabling software; smart inverters; and energy storage. Participating experts included Byron Flynn of General Electric, Larry Dickerman of Landis+Gyr, Katie Hsia-Kiung from Enphase Energy, and Matt O’Keefe from Oracle.

“The AEE Institute is proud to act as a facilitator to foster these important conversations among utility commission staff about innovations in the way we generate, distribute, consume, and save energy,” said Hannah Polikov, Director, Public Utility Commission Program at Advanced Energy Economy. “We look forward to continuing to engage with state regulators across the nation, share best practices, and discuss ways to effectively regulate and modernize our electric power system.”

The AEE Institute’s Advanced Energy PUC Forums are part of a broader effort to engage industry and regulators in addressing key challenges and opportunities facing the utility sector. Advanced Energy Economy has also held a series of 21st Century Electricity System CEO Forums and follow-on Working Groups in which executives of utility companies, advanced energy companies, and regulators in various states recommend new business and regulatory models to encourage the adoption of advanced energy technologies in the power sector. Together, the AEE and Institute programs are helping to define pathways toward new products and services, network infrastructure and operational models, and regulatory frameworks that will provide consumers with a more robust, resilient, dynamic, and consumer-oriented power system. 

About Advanced Energy Economy Institute
The Advanced Energy Economy Institute (AEE Institute) is a nonprofit educational and charitable organization committed to raising awareness about the public benefits of advanced energy. The AEE Institute is affiliated with Advanced Energy Economy, a national association of businesses that are making the energy we use secure, clean, and affordable. The AEE Institute helps to spread the word about advanced energy and its value in moving the country and the world toward a better energy future.

Media Contact: 
Monique Hanis, mhanis@aee.net, 202-391-0884