Energy sector transformation is one of the hottest topics for solar and utility industry leaders in Anaheim this week for Solar Power International (SPI). And it is on this broad national stage that the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) will roll out Phase II of its 51st State Initiative, a unique effort to develop new visions and practical road maps for the changes all energy sector stakeholders know are ahead, if not already underway.
“We launched Phase I of the 51st State Initiative a year ago, as a way to transcend the divisiveness in conversations about how to move ahead with integration of solar and other distributed energy resources on the grid,” said Julia Hamm, President and CEO of SEPA. “Our goal for Phase II is to keep these productive conversations going — with a focus on common goals, stakeholder collaboration and workable solutions.”
Announced at last year’s SPI, Phase I of the initiative challenged participants to envision an energy market that would optimize integration of solar and other distributed energy resources (DERs) as if for a hypothetical new state with no existing regulatory or market structures. More than a dozen papers were submitted.
Phase II extends the challenge, this time asking for detailed road maps for the transition from today’s utility and regulatory models to those that will both optimize solar and DERs, and ensure that customers have safe, affordable, reliable and cleaner energy. Specifically, each road map will have to address six key energy sector elements or “lanes”: retail market design, wholesale market design, utility business models, asset deployment, information technology, and rates and regulation.
“Distributed energy resources like energy efficiency and distributed solar are becoming increasingly important parts of our nation’s energy mix, and we need to be thoughtful about how we evolve as an industry to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible for customers, market players and providers of last resort,” said Ralph Izzo, Chairman, President and CEO of PSEG. Izzo is a member of the Executive Leadership Council (ELC) that will steer Phase II.
“The 51st State Initiative is important, both because of its national focus and because SEPA is able to bring together all those who envision a more distributed, clean energy future in a truly constructive dialogue,” said Steve Corneli, NRG Energy’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Strategy, and another ELC member. “It is a great complement to the various state-level ‘utility of the future’ efforts currently underway.”
Phase II road map submissions will be due Wed., March 9, 2016. A 51st State Summit focusing on the road maps is planned for April 14, 2016 in Denver.
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