Grid Modernization

States look to boost access to customer energy usage data

A growing number of states are working to increase access to customer energy usage data, both for customers themselves, and with customer permission for third-party designees, a new report from the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center.

That is just one of several grid modernization trends seen in states in the first quarter of 2019, the center said in its new “50 States of Grid Modernization” report, which was released this month.

The report noted that bills expanding customer data access were under consideration in at least nine states during the first quarter of 2019.

The Montana State Legislature enacted a bill requiring data access for customers and customers’ designees and authorizing utilities to disclose anonymous, aggregated data. Utah lawmakers enacted legislation requiring utilities to provide non-residential customers with access to their own usage data, but authorizing fees for accessing this data.

Data access legislation also moved forward in New Hampshire, while the North Carolina Utilities Commission opened a new proceeding to develop data access rules.

Meanwhile, the Vermont Public Utility Commission approved a data access standard put forward by Green Mountain Power and Efficiency Vermont, the report said.

Energy storage

Several states taking actions to incorporate energy storage into existing policies was listed as another top grid modernization trend in the first quarter of 2019.

The report said that some states, including Arkansas, California, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, considered the net metering eligibility of distributed generation systems paired with energy storage.

North Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina are addressing how the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act applies to energy storage facilities, while a number of states considered legislation allowing renewable energy projects paired with energy storage to be eligible for renewable portfolio standard compliance, the center noted.

“Other policy areas states are addressing are: updating interconnection rules to include energy storage systems and advanced inverter capabilities; considering requirements for evaluation of energy storage options in integrated resource planning; and extending solar energy incentives to apply to energy storage projects,” the center reported.

A third first quarter 2019 grid modernization trend highlighted by the center relates to advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).

The report said that as utilities request approval to deploy AMI, regulators in several states are indicating that the functionality of these meters needs to be more fully utilized in order to justify the expenditures.

The report noted that the Virginia Corporation Commission rejected Dominion Energy’s AMI deployment proposal in January 2019 because the utility did not provide a plan to maximize the potential of AMI. Appalachian Power, an American Electric Power subsidiary, which also requested approval for AMI deployment in Virginia, filed supplemental testimony in order to address the AMI concerns cited in Dominion’s case, but later pulled its plan with an intent to refile after addressing the Commission’s standards, the center said. 

In Hawaii, regulators approved Hawaiian Electric’s request to deploy AMI, but directed the utility to develop an advanced rate design strategy to help maximize the benefits of AMI.

Meanwhile, in New York, National Grid filed its proposed AMI implementation plan, following a 2018 settlement that included a stakeholder process to develop the plan.

Details on Q1 2019 actions by states

The report said that in the first quarter of 2019, 44 states plus Washington, D.C., took a total of 395 policy and deployment actions related to grid modernization, utility business model and rate reform, energy storage, microgrids, and demand response.

Of the 395 actions catalogued, the most common were related to policies (104), planning and market access (68), and deployment (62).

The report’s executive summary is available here.