Report Shows US Grid Modernization Activity Increased In 2018

Utilities tackled planning, deployment and rate reform.

  • Grid modernization activity among US states increased by 60% in 2018
  • There were 460 individual actions in 2018, compared to 228 in 2017
  • Actions include: studies and investigations; utility business model and rate reform; planning and market access; policy

US cities and states in 2018 ramped up grid modernization efforts, according to a recent report from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center.

Grid modernization activity among US cities and states increased by 60% in 2018 to 460 individual actions, compared to 228 in 2017. Those actions include investigations of smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure; energy storage and microgrid development; as well as regulatory and business model reform.

The report follows the New York Public Service Commission’s December adoption of a 3,000 MW energy storage goal by 2030. Notably, PSC also provided a roadmap for implementation that includes: competitive direct procurement; a system efficiency target; the preparation of nonwire alternatives; an incentive plan; a distributed energy resource data platform; and value stack tariff refinement.

That month, California ISO, ISO New England, Midcontinent ISO, New York ISO, PJM Interconnection, and the Southwest Power Pool also filed plans to comply with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 841. The order requires wholesale market operators to establish rules that will allow energy storage resources to participate in energy, capacity, and ancillary services markets.

The report also notes that the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada in 2018 formally adopted rules for distribution system planning, while the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission established integrated distribution planning requirements. Regulators in Delaware and Ohio according to the report also initiated distribution system planning efforts that year.

The increase in activity came as some utilities either scaled back or rejected plans to invest in grid modernization in 2018. The report particularly notes that advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) proposals in North Carolina and Virginia were reduced due to questions around functionality and cost, respectively. AMI proposals in Kentucky, Massachusetts, and New Mexico were rejected in some cases on the basis of their benefits to the public.

The report notes that some regulators have since asked utilities to present revised plans and budgets for the rejected elements. The full report can be found here.

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