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North Carolina Is Part of a Smart Electricity Task Force

From Scott Carlberg

The electric grid of today grew from disparate and unconnected power systems over decades. New technology demands that a heightened long-term approach be taken to make sure we have secure, connected, efficient and affordable electricity. The Task Force on Comprehensive Electricity Planning is a national group that will tackle regulatory, business and technological issues in a two-year timeline.

North Carolina is one of 16 states in the task force. Good. Very good. North Carolina has earned a spot in that group and it will help the state.

“New technology capabilities, decreasing costs, consumer preferences, and state goals are driving significant growth in distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar photo-voltatics (PV), batteries, electric vehicles, microgrids, and controllable, efficient appliances and equipment. Many of these advances are due to the dedicated efforts of state energy policymakers (e.g., state energy directors and their offices, governors, legislators, public utility commissions) over many years through the development of state energy plans, incentive programs, provisions of technical assistance, and other efforts.” That according to the task force’s website.

Boiled down to the basics: There is a lot of new technology, lots of regulatory opinions and varied levels of implementation of technology, rules and customer-orientation across the US. There are 37 states doing something now about the future electric system, but likely not anything universal or consistent. It is a big enough issue for efficiency and security to make sure there is a smart approach to energy.

16 states are participating in the task force (Map from the task force website)

The task force says that its collaboration can:

  • Ensure reliability, resilience, and efficient use of resources
  • Maximize customer and system benefits (e.g., affordability, reliability)
  • Support state policy priorities
  • Increase transparency of decisions and investments

ECC supports transparency, give-and-take and teamwork to build the best electric grid possible for the future.

The core issues that the group will address:

  • (How) does the status quo of resource / distribution system planning support or inhibit a reliable, least-cost power system?
  • How do resource / distribution system planning need to relate to each other? What improvements can or should be made?
  • What do the status quo and optimized planning processes look like under various permutations of market / policy structures (e.g., vertically integrated vs restructured, existing distribution system planning process vs no existing process, existing resource preference policies vs no preference policies, integrated resource planning vs wholesale market)?
  • What do Commissions and state energy offices want out of an optimized planning process? How will they know when it’s been achieved?

The challenge the group sees:

  • What steps are needed to transition from the status quo to optimized processes?
  • What technical, administrative, and other barriers impede an optimized planning process? How can those barriers be addressed?
  • What gaps in data, information, and tools need to be filled to support success?

From the project website

These issues affect everyone reading this blog. Technology is changing in the electric industry fast. Regulations needs to keep current for what customers need and what is technically feasible. The task force will help.

The task force is managed by two organizations: The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), which for years has been an important information source for people who serve our states in regulatory issues, and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), which has been a longtime resource for governor-designated energy officials.

As the task force meets and provides information on its work, ECC will share what we learn. Working together in a critically important public issue, and across boundaries like this, is a smart path to the best possible electric future for the US.