In October 2012, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) issued a Notice of Investigation (“NOI”) , into the modernization of the electric grid. The NOI lays out the DPU’s vision for electric grid modernization, and raises numerous questions on both grid-facing and customer-facing issues. The DPU will establish a working group of utilities and other stakeholders to provide recommendations to the DPU by June of 2013. As an initial step in this investigation, the DPU will hold a kick-off workshop on November 14, 2012.
Through this investigation, the DPU seeks to explore key issues of grid modernization, specifically recognizing the important role that grid modernization can play in (1) improving grid reliability, especially during extreme weather conditions; 2) increasing customer control over usage and costs; and (3) improving system efficiency. The investigation will explore both “grid-facing” elements, which will improve the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid itself, as well as “customer-facing” elements, which are directed at increasing customers’ control of their own usage and reducing customer costs. The goal of the DPU is to advance grid modernization in Massachusetts, while carefully considering potential costs to ratepayers.
Charting the path to grid modernization will require a review of the benefits and challenges involved and will include developing: (1) an understanding of the current status of the electric grid infrastructure as it relates to grid modernization; (2) modernization objectives and an implementation strategy for the grid-facing elements; (3) modernization objectives and an implementation strategy for customer-facing elements, including dynamic pricing structures; (4) an understanding of the costs and benefits of grid modernization; (5) an approach to cost recovery for grid modernization infrastructure; (6) an approach to customer engagement and acceptance; and (7) an approach to issues such as security, privacy, interoperability, and concerns about health effects. The DPU also plans to seek input from various stakeholders on the sequence and pace for advancing grid modernization.
Raab Associates and Synapse Energy Economics will be assisting the DPU in the design and facilitation of both the kick-off workshop and the working group process.