ORIGINAL REPORTING: Two Grid Mod Roads Diverge In Massachusetts
Massachusetts utilities take divergent approaches to grid modernization; Regulators must choose whether to embrace their original grid mod goals, opt for newly-proposed performance metrics, or go back to the drawing board.
Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 6, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Since this story ran, regulators have shown an inclination to support the Baker-baked Eversource approach and opponents are taking their decisions to the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
Massachusetts regulators ordered the state’s utilities to develop a grid modernization plan (GMP) in 2014 with four specific objectives but divergent approaches have so far prevented implementation. Utilities were to reduce the effects of outages, optimize demand to reduce system and customer costs, integrate distributed energy resources (DER), and improve workforce and asset management. The order’s first specification was that utilities prioritize advanced metering functionality (AMF), which is the basic technology platform for grid modernization. A subsequent November 2014 order (12-76C) specified that the AMF must support default time varying rates (TVR) that have a time-of-use component, critical peak pricing component and include all customers. The orders came from a commission appointed by former Gov. Deval Patrick (D), but all three commissioners have changed since Gov. Charlie Baker (R) took office in January 2015.
In January 2017, Eversource complicated the GMP proceeding with its General Rate Case (GRC) filing by separating components and expenditures for modernization. The move complicated an already complex debate over how the GMP proceeding should evolve. The National Grid GMP (15-120) followed guidelines from Patrick’s DPU to achieve full AMF and put in place default TVR within five years. Eversource’s would achieve neither of those objectives, instead opting to introduce a new rate design concept and seek alternative paths to cost recovery for its GMP assets… click here for more