Moving Massachusetts Towards a More Modern Grid

Moving Massachusetts Towards a More Modern Grid

"Grid modernization" and grid resiliency have gotten a lot of attention in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and other extreme weather events over the last couple of years. While the 2013 hurricane season has been quiet so far, as New England heads towards the winter storm season issues such as the reliability and resiliency and our aging electric grid will quickly return to the public discourse. But grid modernization is not just an opportunity to create a more resilient grid in the face of major storms. It provides an enormous opportunity to enable clean and diverse distributed energy resources and to capture the benefits they can provide to the system as a whole in terms of improved reliability, resiliency, efficiency, and power quality, as well as reduced environmental impacts.

Luckily, here in Massachusetts state officials have shown great leadership and have started the process to update our electric grid, making it a top priority. This Friday, September 20th, I'll join Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) Chair Ann Berwick and others from the Massachusetts Electric Grid Modernization Stakeholder Working Group on a not-to-be-missed panel at the New England Electricity Restructuring Roundtable. The panel will focus largely on the recommendations made by the Working Group Steering Committee in its July report and insight into how the DPU plans to adopt and implement a grid modernization regulatory framework.

The New England Clean Energy Council played a key role developing the report to the DPU by coordinating a broad range of clean energy companies and organizations, environmental advocates, and consumer representatives known as the "Clean Energy Caucus" to recommend how utilities, clean energy companies, and other players in the energy market can advance grid modernization to benefit the Commonwealth's energy users. The group recommended principles, a regulatory model and a benefit-cost framework that will facilitate and encourage grid modernization investment by distribution utilities to provide a platform for customer and third party applications to manage energy costs, increase flexibility, enhance reliability, ensure resiliency, improve efficiency and achieve environmental goals.

The DPU's decision to prompt the grid modernization process in Massachusetts was insightful and long overdue, and we expect the department will act expeditiously to provide the guidelines needed to pursue grid modernization investments. Prudent action will benefit our region, our economy and our environment, by putting Massachusetts on the path to a robust and resilient grid where utilities and energy users can take advantage of the opportunities for clean, reliable energy within our electric grid.

This week's New England Electricity Restructuring Roundtable is free and open to the public and will also be webcast for free for roundtable sponsors and for $50 for non-sponsors. To view via webcast visit: http://clickstreamtv.com/raabevents/ You can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #RaabRT.

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