Inside the Minds of Regulators: How Different States Are Dealing With Distributed Energy

By Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

With distributed generation steadily rising and creeping into new states, electricity regulators in each region of the U.S. are dealing with change very differently. Regulatory officials from California, Texas, Minnesota and Arizona discussed how they’re addressing some of the most pressing issues in their service territories this week at the National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid in Washington, D.C.

California: California is the national leader in the deployment of solar PV, plug-in electric vehicles, grid-scale energy storage and home automation technologies. Today, about 20 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable energy, putting California on track to meet its 33 percent renewable energy target by 2020.

But while the Golden State continues to come up with new ways to promote and integrate advanced energy technologies, the focus will shift from renewables in the coming years, said Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission.

“We’re moving away from a technology-based discussion to [a discussion of] grid values — what does the grid need, what do customers need?” he said. “And we will probably move away from a focus on renewables per se as a series of technologies, to a series of metrics on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Picker added that this shift away from individual technologies toward holistic grid solutions will reinforce a convergence between traditional electric utilities, the transportation industry, the natural gas industry and all types of distributed energy resources (DERs).

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