Nineteen authors weighed in on the role of the natural utility monopoly in thirteen papers - now publically available - as part of the third phase of the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s (SEPA) 51st State Initiative.
Disruption within the electric power sector has led to a changing, and sometimes unclear, role for U.S. utilities. This uncertainty has resulted in delayed investment in critical infrastructure for a 21st-century grid.
To provide more clarity on this issue, industry thought leaders, executives, researchers and innovators from large investor-owned utilities and trade associations, technology developers, research labs and nonprofits submitted diverse plans aimed at addressing:
Despite varying differences in approach - ranging from describing the role of the future utility to providing a framework for considering how to answer this question - many agreed that the role of the utility should include integrated planning and that the Cost of Service model is inadequate. Many also saw a performance based regulation (PBR) as a pathway forward.
There was a wide spectrum for those that did characterize the ideal “51st State” role of the utility. Numerous authors suggested the electric utility become more narrow, focusing as some form of a Distribution System Operator. Others advocated expanding the utility role to take an active approach in developing, owning, and aggregating distributed energy resources (DERs).
“Uncertainty around the role of the utility is a major barrier to business model evolution and slows the deployment of new technology that can deliver customer value,” said Tanuj Deora, SEPA’s chief content officer, “SEPA applauds the hard work and thinking of all our authors for their contributions to reducing that uncertainty.”
SEPA will be hosting a Twitter chat on Friday, December 15 at 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. EST with several authors about their ideas around the natural utility monopoly. All are welcome to join using the hashtag #SEPAchat
A View from the 51st State of Radinau, Paul Zummo, American Public Power Association( APPA)
SEPA’s 51st State Initiative - A Whitepaper Discussion, Howard Smith, Southern Company
Defining the future Role and Core Functions of the Monopoly Utility, Jim Mazurek, Justin Davidson and Tyler Lancaster, Accenture
Determining the Scope of the Electric Distribution Utility of the Future, Carl Pechman, PhD
New Utility Roles for Electricity Distribution Markets, Rocky Mountain Institute
Role of Utilities in the Transforming Energy Economy of the 51st State, David Hill, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC)
Solutions to the Utility Information Problem, Michael O’Boyle, Energy Innovation
Stewardship, Innovation and the Role of the Electric Utility in the 21st Century, Bob Fesmire, with contributions from Gary Rackliffe and Asaf Nagler, ABB
The Future Role of the Electric Utility: Energy and Capacity Optimization, Larry Dickerman, Landis+Gyr
The Next Phase of the 51st State: Utility Operating Environment and Business Models in the Energy Cloud, David O’Brien, Mackinnon Lawrence and Red Walker, Navigant
The Role of the Consumer-Centric Utility, Jan Ahlen, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
The Role of the Utility, Jeff Weiss, Distributed Sun
51st State Initiative | http://www.sepapower.org