The traditional utility and power grid model of a one-way power flow from central generating stations to consumers is rapidly giving way to an exciting, consumer-friendly energy future. The system can be more cost-effective, cleaner, offer greater consumer control over energy costs and help clear the pathway to very low carbon emissions.

In Acadia Center’s vision of a modern grid, homes and businesses become the centerpiece of the energy system. Consumers will have greater control over energy use through technologies such as rooftop solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, advanced meters that help consumers control and monitor power usage, and technologies such as smart appliances and heat pumps. Community energy systems- local wind power, solar arrays, and combined heat and power- will also play an important role in the modern power grid. UtilityVision, an Acadia Center publication, presents this comprehensive vision with illustrations and recommendations. Acadia Center is also participating in grid modernization dockets and related state and regional proceedings and forums.

Technological advancement in the energy arena is moving so quickly that the market is ahead of the regulatory structure governing utilities. Today’s grid planning and investment policies were developed in an earlier era, when large fossil-fueled power plants were constructed to energize population centers. Longstanding policies skew decisions in favor of legacy power grid investments over newer, often less expensive and more advanced solutions. The rules need to change so that viable, often lower-cost, alternatives to transmission and distribution infrastructure projects are fully considered. New regulations should also reflect the appropriate role of the utility in an increasingly decentralized system.

Acadia Center is working to update policy models so they align utilities’ financial incentives with the public’s clean energy, carbon reduction, and economic goals.

 

  • Residential Fixed Charges in New York

    Fixed charges are the flat monthly fees that every customer pays, regardless of the amount of electricity they consume. Over the past several years, utilities have pushed for higher fixed charges because they guarantee a revenue stream. However, high fixed charges violate well-established regulatory principles, reduce incentives for energy efficiency and clean local generation, and result in higher bills for low-usage customers, who are disproportionately low income. New York has relatively high residential fixed charges compared to the rest of the U.S., and its charges are higher than those in neighboring states. High fixed charges are ultimately incompatible with the energy future envisioned by New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (“REV”) initiative and should be reduced significantly.

  • RGGI on the World Stage

    Following the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, cities, states and regions will increasingly need to lead on climate. The nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) have demonstrated a will to forge ahead in the absence of federal action in the past, and their leadership will make a substantial impact on the global fight against climate change; together, these states have a GDP of $2.8 trillion, representing the world’s 6th largest economy. Fortunately, the list of states taking action on climate is growing.

  • Distributed System Implementation Plans in New York: Summary and Analysis

    States throughout the Northeast are considering how to transition from an energy grid that delivers power one-way, from fossil fuel power generators to customers, to a modern, dynamic, and flexible energy system that is centered around our homes and businesses. Massachusetts utilities have presented plans for updating the electric grid in their Grid Modernization Plans, which are currently under consideration at the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Utilities. Rhode Island’s Power Sector Transformation Initiative is currently seeking feedback on Distribution System Planning for a modern grid. In response to New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision, the state’s electric utilities have developed Distribution System Implementation Plans. Acadia Center has analyzed and summarized the New York experience here.

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