Phase II of initiative focuses on practical steps toward solar, DER integration
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has announced that the 13 road maps for energy system transition that it received for Phase II of its 51st State Initiative are now posted on the initiative website, www.sepa51.org. Originally launched in the fall of 2014, the initiative is aimed at overcoming divisive debates in the industry by focusing on finding common visions and developing road maps for change that can be customized for local energy markets.
The Phase II papers come from a broad group of energy system stakeholders across the country, including large investor-owned utilities and trade associations, as well as technology developers, research labs and nonprofits. The papers lay out very diverse plans for getting from today's energy system to a future with more solar and distributed energy resources (DERs)-- such as storage and demand response -- a more interactive grid, and more technology, service and rate options for consumers.
Some of the ideas discussed include:
• Capping net-metered residential solar to minimize grid and ratepayer impacts, while expanding community solar projects as a means for utilities to gain experience in solar technology and offer affordable clean energy to customers who might not otherwise be able to buy or lease a rooftop system.
• Allowing utilities to earn a return on energy efficiency investments, and developing platforms to allow better 3rd party-customer-utility interaction
• Leveraging increased data from advanced meters to study customer usage patterns and develop new rate designs that send appropriate price signals to different customer groups to encourage energy efficiency or load shifting.
• As more solar and distributed technologies come on line, spreading system risks between utilities and customers by lowering minimum standards for electric supply reliability and allowing utilities to offer higher levels of reliability as a premium service.
"As in Phase I of the 51st State, what is most exciting about Phase II is the depth of thought and creativity participants have put into their road maps -- and all the possible ways forward they have developed," said Julia Hamm, SEPA President and CEO. "At the same time, we're finding a number of common themes; for example, the ongoing efforts to find alternatives to net metering that are fair and equitable for solar and non-solar customers as well as utilities."
Phase I of the 51st State challenged participants to envision an energy system of the future, as if for a hypothetical new state with no energy market structures or regulations. The proposals received are also available at www.sepa51.org.
Authors of the Phase II road maps and a select group of energy industry experts and thought leaders will be discussing the papers and the next steps to expand their dissemination and impact at SEPA's second annual 51st State Summit, April 14 in Denver.
SEPA is an education non-profit that enables the transition to a clean energy economy by facilitating utility integration and deployment of solar, demand response, other distributed energy resources, and supporting technologies onto the grid.