U.S. state regulators divided on smart grids


New York, NY, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 5, 2008 – U.S. state regulatory commissioners appear to be divided on the future role of the smart grid, with only 17 so far considering that a smart grid, including advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), is a fundamental requirement to support their energy future.

Of these four states indicate qualified support for a smart grid with projects already under way (Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Washington). In addition 11 states have smart grids under review (Arkansas, DC, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont), and three have yet to make a decision (Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina). Eleven U.S. states do not consider a smart grid as fundamental to their energy future.

These are among the findings in a new survey by Capgemini aimed at developing a national energy perspective among the members of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). The survey was completed by 42 states.
Among the key findings of the survey are that the top state and national priorities are to increase both power generation and transmission capacities and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with almost all anticipating that new federal greenhouse gas emission regulations will be introduced.

The majority of states also believe that energy efficiency is a priority, and 24 states are considering time-of-use (TOU) or other dynamic pricing mechanisms as a tool to encourage efficiency and conservation, while five states have dynamic pricing available, one state has it under review and three states have yet to make a decision. Nine states are not considering dynamic pricing.

More than half of states are also considering or implementing “decoupling” of the volumetric component of the rate from the fixed components as a way to encourage improved efficiency and energy conservation, and about 60 percent are considering or implementing direct financial incentives for energy conservation.

More than half of states anticipate more consolidation within the U.S. energy industry as means to achieve greater scale, financial stability and regional coordination, and the majority would encourage and support greater coordination at federal and state levels as well as between NARUC member organizations in addressing state energy issues.

In commentary on the survey Capgemini said: “The regulatory community is clearly aware of the issues, even united in certain solutions, but they will require new rules and some technology advances to enable them to fully participate. Their first order of business is to keep the lights on through the transition.”