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NRECA is partnering with the Smart Electric Power Alliance and a broad coalition of energy, consumer and environmental groups to help states that are considering updates to their utility regulatory systems to reflect the industry’s rapidly changing technologies.
SEPA brought NRECA and the other partners together in February for an initiative called Renovate that seeks to give states a wide range of solutions to modify regulatory procedures that were likely created before battery storage, home solar panels, electric vehicles and other kinds of distributed energy resources were common.
The Renovate task force will soon finalize three or four major challenges and then spend about a year working on case studies and proposed solutions to be announced in early 2020, said Janet Gail Besser, SEPA’s managing director of regulatory innovation and utility business models.
“We’re now seeing technologies—less centrally driven, more distributed—changing at a faster pace than state regulatory systems are used to handling,” Besser said.
The goal of Renovate, she said, is to offer states some options for changing regulatory structures to account for evolving technologies and markets.
“SEPA is trying to bring together a broad group of stakeholders to come up with solutions so regulators could have some pathways—choices—to look at and say, ‘This best fits my state,’” Besser said.
NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said it’s important for co-ops to be part of the solution.
“As policymakers consider proposals that will continue to reshape the electric utility industry, promoting candid and thoughtful discussions will be vital to protecting the interests of energy consumers during the transition,” Matheson said. “Electric co-ops look forward to bringing our community and consumer-first focus to this dialogue.”
In addition to NRECA and SEPA, the other 10 partners in the initiative are: Natural Resources Defense Council, National Governors Association, Rocky Mountain Institute, Edison Electric Institute, Environmental Law & Policy Center, American Public Power Association, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions, National Association of State Energy Offices, National Conference of State Legislators, and Regulatory Assistance Project.
The partner organizations will work with the Renovate task force of about two dozen people, including state regulators, legislators, consumer advocates, utilities and energy-technology companies, to come up with ideas for states to consider.