Piloting the Future for Maryland's Electric Utilities and their Customers
In February 2013, EFC hosted an initial Utility 2.0 Pilot Project meeting of experts and advocates to discuss potential elements for the pilot project. Concepts for the pilot rolled in, and proposed elements range from those as concrete as including smart thermostats in homes and distributed battery storage, to such theoretical concepts as “redefining the utility" and changing the way that utility performance is evaluated.
In early March 2013, a draft pilot design proposal was sent around to over 100 stakeholders for review, input, comments, and suggestions, and by March 15th, the pilot design was complete and handed off to Governor O'Malley, Pepco Holdings, Inc., and Baltimore Gas & Electric. We have proposed that the involved stakeholders meet to discuss the elements of the pilot design, with hopes that some or all of the design will be implemented in the State of Maryland, and ultimately serve as a model that can be replicated and learned from elsewhere in the United States.
As of May 2013, the final report has been released to the public and it can be found here. The report has received positive reaction so far, with the most noteworthy reaction being that of Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner, Chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment committee. Councilmember Berliner formally filed the report before the Maryland Public Service Commission, requesting public comment on the recommendations made in the report, the forming of work groups as appropriate, and suggesting that Maryland move forward with implementing such pilot programs. Councilmember Berliner said that the report “offered a compelling vision of an energy future that is more reliable, cost-effective, green, energy efficient, consumer directed, and technologically advanced.”
In a related effort, the Energy Future Coalition, along with co-host World Resources Institute, held a workshop on Facilitating the Evolution of the Electric Utility in early May 2013. At the meeting, senior officials from the Department of Energy cross-pollinated knowledge and information with many NGOs also working on utility reform. The discussion was fruitful, with actionable takeaways and important connections forged. EFC looks to continue to leverage its convening power in trying to make the inevitable transition to the Utility of the Future far smoother than it otherwise might be.
Building on the work described above, EFC is now actively pursuing several initiatives. Most recently, we have been designated as a member of Maryland's Resiliency Through Microgrids Task Force, which is exploring very seriously the potential for a public interest microgrid that would enhance electricity system resiliency in the case of a major storm or other outage event. In addition, EFC is pursuing an initiative that will attempt to understand in totality the work of numerous organizations working on utility evolution and modernization issues, while also bringing new and previously quiet stakeholders to the table.
For more information on Utility 2.0, or to subscribe to our e-mail list for future updates and meetings, please send us an e-mail!