R.I. Power Sector Transformation Study Represents ‘A Big Step Forward’

The Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC) and Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) Institute have applauded the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, and Public Utilities Commission, which last week jointly filed a comprehensive report addressing key steps Rhode Island must undertake to modernize its electricity system.

The Rhode Island Power Sector Transformation report is the result of eight months of work led by the three state agencies, in coordination with numerous local stakeholders, national experts, clean energy companies and Rhode Island’s investor-owned utility, National Grid. The report was requested by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo in March as part of an initiative to modernize Rhode Island’s electricity system to control costs, give customers more energy choices and information, and build a more flexible grid to integrate clean energy generation – all to benefit Rhode Island’s residents and businesses.

“Taking advantage of the Ocean State’s small size and predominant single utility, Rhode Island’s Power Sector Transformation Initiative is a unique opportunity to develop a statewide ‘pilot’ of a new regulatory framework and utility business model that partners with independent clean energy technology companies and customers to foster innovation and catapult the state to the lead in the transition to a 21st-century electricity system,” says Janet Gail Besser, NCEC’s executive vice president. “NECEC looks forward to continuing to work with the state agencies and other stakeholders to make the transformation of Rhode Island’s electricity system a reality.”

“We applaud Rhode Island for undertaking this modernization effort to create an energy system that will stimulate innovation, integrate advanced technologies and meet the changing expectations of consumers and society,” says Lisa Frantzis, senior vice president for strategy at national business group AEE.

Frantiz says the report’s recommendations are “a big step forward in realigning the role of the utility and transforming how customers interact with their energy providers. This unlocks the value that private advanced energy companies bring to the market and will drive Rhode Island towards a stronger, more flexible, and resilient grid.”

NECEC and AEE Institute commend the agencies for making the following key recommendations, among others:

Utility Business Model

  • Moving away from the old model of utility compensation based on capital investment to a performance-based model that aligns utility incentives with customer demands and public policy objectives for clean energy, economic development and environmental benefits.

Grid Connectivity and Meter Functionality

  • Emphasizing that advanced metering is needed now to take advantage of the opportunities for outage prevention, faster restoration, more efficient use of the distribution system and enhanced customer choices of pricing options, energy efficiency and renewable services.

Distribution System Planning

  • Making distribution system planning transparent to enable stakeholder input and customer and independent third-party solutions to system needs, recognizing that access to system and customer data – with appropriate security and privacy protections – is necessary to make this possible.

Beneficial Electrification

  • Pursuing the benefits of electric vehicles and heating (thermal) electrification to reduce stress on the distribution system and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as creating new business opportunities for providers and innovative new services for customers.

The Rhode Island Power Sector Transformation report is available here. 

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