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Utility Dive (opinion): Can a 'DER Authority' fix the utility information problem to boost clean energy?

Posted by Mike O'Boyle on Jul 30, 2018

This in-depth Utility Dive opinion explores how an independent DER Authority, like the first being considered by the city of Washington, D.C., might better manage system optimization of distributed energy resources. AEE's reports, blog, data, and graphics were cited throughout the piece. Link to the full article here. Excerpts below:

America's regulators have a utility information problem, and people who want a cleaner electricity system know it well. 

Because they identify and profit from new infrastructure needs, utilities have embedded incentives to identify solutions that involve utility-owned infrastructure. Unfortunately, regulators have insufficient information to compare utility proposals against alternatives, and so the litigious nature of utility ratemaking continues lagging behind technological potential for a cleaner, cheaper, more reliable grid.

Today, experimentation is happening and solutions are emerging, albeit relatively slowly: Integrated distribution planning (IDP) is an information-intensive solution being tested in at least 11 states

Meanwhile, performance-based regulation (PBR) is being explored or implemented in at least 13 states (in many cases concurrently with IDP) as a way to motivate utilities toward system optimization. 

Six states are testing both approaches simultaneously, and combining the two makes great sense if the aim is moving a slow-changing system a bit more quickly.

And in Washington D.C., a new potential model has emerged — vesting data sharing and distribution system optimization authority into a public third-party entity. 

Link to the full UD article here.

Topics: AEE In The News