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.


  • Electric Vehicles and State Funds

    Policymakers in Massachusetts have directed a study of transportation funding from electric vehicles and whether additional contributions are necessary to offset a loss of revenue from the gasoline tax. Acadia Center’s analysis demonstrates that additional fees are not necessary or fair in the short run, but in the longer term, an energy-equivalent surcharge per kWh of electricity consumed would be a fair way to ensure equitable contributions from all alternative fuels.

  • Grid Modernization and Utility Reform in MA Series

    Massachusetts has fallen behind its neighbors in exploring and enacting policies that will help the Commonwealth keep pace with clean energy technologies that offer enormous promise to make the electricity grid more responsive to consumers, improve economic competitiveness, and produce substantial reductions in climate pollution. Acadia Center comments on this trend in a three-part opinion series for CommonWealth Magazine. Part One of the series reviews the recent history of grid modernization and utility reform in Massachusetts, its uncertain future, and the need for legislative reforms and oversight. Part Two describes how the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) decision on revenue, return on equity, and utility business model reform fails to benefit consumers and ultimately approves approximately $460 million in additional ratepayer costs. Part Three discusses the DPU decision issued on January 5, 2018, covering rate design.

  • Eversource Rate Case in MA

    Just over a year ago, on January 17, 2017, Eversource filed a comprehensive electric rate case in Massachusetts, requesting significant revenue increases, new rate structures, and an array of investments. On November 30, 2017 and January 5, 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued its Orders in the case approving nearly all Eversource’s requests. This document describes Acadia Center’s principles for reform and key components of the recent Orders on Eversource’s rate case proposals, followed by next steps and further recommended reforms.

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