Here are a couple of interesting recent articles from the US, very much concentrating on the evolutionary journey of the electricity technology and market place.
The utility drive article recounts the progress being made in NY State to stimulate utilities to adopt and be progressive with Distributed Energy Resources. From a UK context, it’s always easy to highlight the significant differences between UK and US market structures from a regulatory perspective ( around what is in and out of the rate base). Indeed, it would be easy to point to the stimulus around the UK energy scene for renewable generation as similar to the ideas here. However, in looking at the detail of this article, it outlines quite clearly the need for on-going “monopoly” investment to be provided to the utility through the well -established rate case process. Over and above this, two new emerging models for revenue earning are described; one which motivates utilities to actively encourage 3rd party providers as Platform Service Providers, and the other which enables Earning Adjustment Mechanisms around such topics as energy efficiency and distributed energy resources (DER) interconnection.
It is clear that these arrangements in NY state, are carefully thought through and balanced to permit stability of the required network infrastructure, but at the same time facilitate the emergence of a new world order in local supply demand balance. There is nothing reckless in this approach, it is indeed a very natural evolution to create the “future norms”. The example of ConEd’s virtual power plant embodying the role of rooftop solar with storage is very much paving the way for much more to come!
In the second article from smartgrid news, a subtly different approach is described. The peer to peer trading function where the solar energy excess is traded from households on one side of the street to those on the other, independent of any utility market involvement, using an independent trading platform is emerging elsewhere around the world. Whilst in the UK the physics of this regularly occurs, the market basis is not so direct, transparent or replicable. Over time, there will be an evolution for the freedom of choice of customers to mature in this way, perhaps with the emergence of a more local cost reflective “use of wires” tariff.
Both of these articles illustrate components of a future energy world, which ultimately give the customer a lot more choice, indeed the customer is very much the one in the driving seat. Industry sector players and markets will evolve, as the customer evolves. What is clear is that the energy sector of tomorrow has the potential to be radically different than that of today!