Today, Acadia Center, a leading non-profit organization that researches and advocates innovative approaches to advance the clean energy future, released, “UtilityVision: Reforming the Energy System to Work for Consumers and the Environment.” The publication presents an ambitious but realistic energy future that puts the consumer firmly in the center. UtilityVision outlines the specific steps needed to create a new energy system that both meets our needs and supports a fair, healthy economy and environment.

“The interests of consumers and a sustainable energy system are merged now more than ever before,” said Daniel Sosland, Acadia Center President. “UtilityVision offers a comprehensive pathway to a smart and dynamic electric system focused on giving consumers and communities greater freedom and control over their energy costs. This new system would be managed with the cooperation of utilities, governed by updated regulations that honor energy technology change, and provide a fair and safe system to protect consumers.”

The need for a comprehensive, new look at the energy system is urgent. “Decisions are being made today in state proceedings that will influence whether we steer towards a cleaner, more efficient and consumer friendly system,” Sosland said. “UtilityVision shows how we can embrace that future.”

UtilityVision is a comprehensive regulatory framework which shows how the parts of a modern energy system can be aligned to put the consumer at the system’s center.  This integrated vision enables us to attain our climate, economic, and consumer goals. UtilityVision is organized around five key areas for reform:

  • Empowering the consumer: Consumers are the most important constituent of our energy system. The modern grid should meet their full energy needs: provide affordable and reliable energy, give them real control over their energy use and costs, help them enjoy the benefits of innovation, and treat all consumers fairly.
  • Planning a consumer-focused power grid: Grid planning must merge the traditional world of “poles and wires” with available new technologies and modern strategies.
  • Aligning utility incentives with consumer and environmental goals: Regulation of the power grid needs to change to provide utilities with the financial incentives that will achieve the goals of increased consumer control and decreased GHG emissions.
  • Helping consumers pay for power they use: Electric bills should be designed to empower consumers to make smart energy and economic decisions to save money and energy.
  • Paying consumers for power they produce: Consumers using local renewable energy resources—through distributed generation like rooftop solar—should be charged based on the costs of staying connected to the grid and credited for the full range of benefits they provide

“Acadia Center’s UtilityVision demonstrates that consumer interests today include a broad span of energy-related issues, from the bedrock consumer concern of affordability to newer considerations like improved energy control, more sustainable energy, clear and accessible energy information, and the opportunity to generate their own local energy and sell it back to the grid,” said Abigail Anthony, Director of Acadia Center’s Grid Modernization and Utility Reform Initiative.

“UtilityVision provides an opportunity for regulators and key stakeholders to view consumer interests in this broader context far beyond the outdated lens of the centralized, one-way power grid of the past,” Anthony said.

Background: UtilityVision addresses one core part of a vision for how to move to a clean energy system and drive down carbon emissions.  It outlines a pathway for stakeholders and regulators to modernize the way we plan, manage and invest in the power grid and ties utility business models, rate-making and customer-side energy resources all together. The illustrated publication outlines the full range of relevant issues and includes detailed policy recommendations. It will serve as a starting point for conversations with policy makers, constituent groups, media and other public forums.

UtilityVision builds on Acadia Center’s EnergyVision (https://acadiacenter.org/document/energyvision/) —released in 2014—which charts out reforms in four interconnected areas to produce a cleaner, lower cost energy system and reach the necessary 80 percent carbon emission reductions by 2050.

UtilityVision is available online: https://acadiacenter.org/document/utilityvision

 

Contacts

Abigail Anthony, Director, Grid Modernization and Utility Reform Initiative, 401-276-0600, aanthony@acadiacenter.org
Emily Avery-Miller, Director External Relations, Acadia Center, 617-742-0054 x100, eavery-miller@acadiacenter.org