The Grid Modernization Challenge and Opportunity in the Northeast

The Grid Modernization Challenge and Opportunity in the Northeast

Just as innovations like blogging, twitter and video sharing have changed the way people consume media and news, advancements and innovations in energy technologies over the last decade have changed the way consumers get and use their energy. The affordability and increased adoption of technologies like solar panels, electric cars and smart devices that allow consumers to monitor and manage electricity use has caused a fundamental shift in the way our electricity system works. No longer does electricity solely flow one-directionally from central generating sources like large power plants to end users. Instead the grid is made up of many distributed energy resources like wind, solar, geothermal, and other technologies, which allow energy consumers to actively participate in the production, consumption, and trade of the energy products and services they use.

The proliferation of advanced energy technologies and increasing amounts of distributed energy resources is changing both how our century-old electricity system and the electric utilities that maintain the system operate. With these changes it has become increasingly clear that electric utilities must modernize their business models to integrate and take advantage of the range of capabilities offered by advanced energy technologies. Additionally, policy makers and regulators must develop a regulatory framework that enables utilities to adapt to this changing energy landscape and to thrive financially.

As many states throughout the Northeast embark on efforts to modernize their electricity systems, NECEC’s new white paper, Leading the Next Era of Electricity Innovation, argues that policy makers, regulators, and utility and advanced energy industry leaders across the Northeast must work together to craft a shared vision for the future of the region’s electricity system. This report, which NECEC’s Policy and Government Affairs team produced based on its work on the Massachusetts Grid Modernization Steering Committee Report and Utility of the Future efforts in New York, is a recommendation of what that vision should look like. Leading the Next Era of Electricity Innovation suggests how stakeholders can create a regulatory framework that is forward-looking and provides strong incentives for utilities to continuously utilize innovative technologies, to partner with grid users and third parties to deliver improved performance, and to create a platform for an increasingly diverse and distributed electricity system. It also advises utilities on how to embrace the new electricity framework and adapt their business models so they can flourish in the new energy landscape.

Read the full paper here.

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