The boring business of generating and transmitting electricity isn’t very boring any more, as technology (distributed solar and digital communication) is, in that fave phrase of the techno-biz folks, being disrupted. New Hampshire is looking for suggestions about where the Public Utilities Commission should focus its efforts, as I note in today’s Monitor.
The geeky stuff is fun, but I suspect the (ugh) government/regulation stuff is more important because electricity is so heavily regulated. We need not just Electric Grid 2.0 and Utility 2.0 but also Regulation 2.0. As the story says:
Many states are, like New Hampshire, trying to decide how to react. Massachusetts and New York are much further along with investigations into how to change the electric grid in their states, producing such things as utility-owned solar farms and upcoming microgrids. New York in particular is taking a lead on the issue, as it has pledged to rewrite most or all of the regulatory and technical systems involved in electricity, a sweeping approach that in some ways goes beyond even the efforts of California, long the leader in new power regulations.
Part of the issue is that the electric utility system has developed over a century with specific incentives designed to generate and transmit more electricity, which may no longer be what is needed.
“How do you reward the utility for doing things differently?” Hatfield asked. “We have a well-oiled machine, they know how to do what we’ve asked them to do in the past . . . now we’re saying, ‘We want you to help us become less dependent on you.’ That can be difficult.”