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Illinois Regulators Launch Utility of the Future Study

March 24, 2017 By Molly White in

Here’s a good forward-looking article on the future needs of Utilities that I found in Public Power Daily.

The Illinois Commerce Commission on March 22 unveiled the launch of an approximately eighteen-month study of issues tied to the “Utility of the Future.”

The ICC said that the effort, dubbed “NextGrid,” is a “statewide collaborative to transform Illinois’ energy landscape and economy.” NextGrid will be convened by the state commission and led by an outside, expert facilitator that has yet to be selected, the ICC said in a March 22 news release.

“In addition to identifying and exploring future technological advancements and utility and regulatory models, the study will inform policymakers on the issues and challenges associated with a quickly evolving energy landscape and provide recommendations to the ICC and Illinois General Assembly on a range of tangible actions and policies available to best benefit customers and communities throughout Illinois,” the ICC said.

The commission said that the study will complement the late 2016 passage of legislation in the state that, among other things, creates policy support for zero carbon emission baseload generation and the expansion of energy efficiency programs, net metering, solar and wind energy.

ICC Chairman Brien Sheahan said that NextGrid will be an inclusive, comprehensive and collaborative process that will result in a fair assessment of policy options in light of statutory goals and the needs of Illinois consumers.

“All stakeholders are invited to participate, from consumer groups to environmental advocates, utilities, academics, technology leaders, government agencies and any other interested parties,” Sheahan said in the news release.

The study will be presented to the ICC at a formal policy session early this summer. Interim and final reports are expected in early and late 2018, respectively.

The ICC is inviting members of the energy stakeholder community to provide input and suggestions regarding the selection of a facilitator and topics to be considered as part of NextGrid by filing comments in response to a commission resolution announcing NextGrid by April 30, 2017.

Additional information about the initiative is available here.

Other states have launched similar initiatives

Other states that are revamping or looking at changing their utility models in an effort to support new grid technologies such as distributed generation and demand response include California, Minnesota and New York.

The Ohio Public Utilities Commission recently launched an initiative looking at how best to support emerging grid technologies that can provide consumer benefits.

Written by: By Paul Ciampoli, News Director, Public Power Daily