The Great Challenge of the
Electric Power Transition
2016 was the year that the U.S.
installed its millionth solar array; storage started to become a game changer; and the Supreme Court ruled on
the FERC 745 case, confirming distributed energy resources (DERs) are integral to our power system.
The beginning of 2017 finds us in
the midst of an electric power sector transition challenging all industry stakeholders. The Smart Electric
Power Alliance (SEPA) has actively
embraced the industry’s shifting paradigms with our recent name change
and expanded mission to facilitate the
utility sector’s smart transition to a
clean energy future through education, research, and collaboration.
What does “smart transition”
mean? It means that effects of any
change must be considered against
all parties who will be affected, and
decisions need to be made with input
from a wider array of stakeholders.
We must also understand that so-
called “smart technologies” are not
tive engagement with consumers,
who want more choice in electric
services and technology.
• Enhanced planning processes to
bring the transactive sophistication
of bulk power system planning and
operations to the distribution level.
• Strategic, organization-wide commitments to integrate DERs, including reforms to regulatory approaches, standard operating practices,
and organizational culture.
Utilities must also contend with
more general challenges — shifting
demographics of the U.S. workforce;
changes in capital availability and
cost; new threats to grid reliability,
such as cyberattacks; and concerns
around data ownership and security.
Another, very practical challenge is
that new technologies must integrate
seamlessly into our existing grid — a
critical factor that some senior executives and policy makers assume is
straightforward or trivial. But DERs
will only realize their full value if they
extend the functionality and capability
of the transmission system to the distribution level, the meter and beyond.
As SEPA expands beyond our focus
on solar to DERs we will look for
opportunities to eliminate roadblocks
to grid modernization efforts now
underway. New technologies will play
increasingly pivotal roles.
The solutions we find together will
make our industry stronger, more
innovative and open to the ongoing
changes we have yet to even imagine.
We look forward to working with the
energy industry to realize these new
visions in 2017 and the years ahead. à
has 15 years of
energy and energy
and programs. The
has gained as the
President and CEO
of SEPA since 2004
makes her one of
the world’s foremost
experts on the nexus
between utilities and