Report outlines new utility regulatory pathways

powering-tomorrow-energy-reportTempe, Ariz., Jan. 7 – As more electricity providers enter the energy market, the way consumers obtain electricity is becoming more and more decentralized. Today, the leaders of the Powering Tomorrow Initiative released their Phase Two report, which defines industry structures and regulatory packages that accommodate a growing number of market participants, while securing the vitality of existing utilities and a fair playing field for new market entrants. Powering Tomorrow has been co-directed by Kris Mayes, a professor of practice at the ASU School of Sustainability and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, Darrell Hanson, a former Iowa public utility commissioner and two other former utility commissioners. ASU has been a participant in Powering Tomorrow, and will continue to assist in future phases of the effort. “Change is happening at a rapid pace in the energy sector, and how we approach it from a regulatory standpoint will make all the difference to consumers and companies alike,” said Mayes, who is also a senior sustainability scholar in ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. “This report begins to outline the kinds of utility industry structures and associated regulatory packages that could be helpful as we move into an era of greater levels of customer-sited distributed generation, energy efficiency and utility-scale renewable energy,” Mayes said. The Powering Tomorrow Report identifies two distinct potential utility industry structures that differ in the scope of competition allowed on the grid edge, and lays out a set of regulatory reforms for each industry structure. The report also addresses issues affecting low-income customers in an age of decentralization as well as high voltage transmission construction policy. The project has been funded with contributions from the Energy Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the members of a diverse commercial stakeholders group that includes some of the nation’s largest third party energy companies and utilities. Darrell Hanson, a former member of the Iowa Utilities Board and one of the Powering Tomorrow leaders, said the Phase Two report is the result of more than a year of collaborative input from stakeholders across the utility industry. “What makes this utility of the future effort unique is that it seeks to bring together all participants in the electric distribution sector – utilities, wind and solar energy companies, and energy efficiency providers alike,” Hanson said. “We strongly believe that any effort to create the utility industry of the future must have input from everyone affected.” Powering Tomorrow now enters its third phase, in which the leaders of the initiative will bring together utilities, third party energy companies and other stakeholders to begin to draft model regulations and legislation needed to implement new utility industry structures, as the nation continues its move toward energy decentralization. Please click here for the Powering Tomorrow Phase Two Final Report.