Every state regulatory commission always seems to have its hands full, and this year is certainly no exception. Recently one of my favorite online publications – Utility Dive – came up with a top-10 list of regulatory agency issues for this year and beyond. It’s an interesting list for sure, some of which has implications for emergency preparedness.
One of the key regulatory priorities that directly impacts emergency preparedness is the desire for grid modernization, encompassing things like advanced metering and distributed energy. Thanks to weather that seems to get increasingly volatile over time, utility regulators in many states – including Maryland, Ohio, Illinois, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Massachusetts to name a few – are clamoring to modernize the grid, and make it smarter, as a means to boost reliability.
Another regulatory commission priority that directly impacts preparedness is energy storage, which can be used to provide a reliable backup source of power during service outages. States focused on this include California, Massachusetts, and Texas. Some other hot topics that are secondarily relevant include a push to expand renewable energy to relieve the strain on traditional generation assets, and improved access to real time data and analytics.
This brings up an interesting dichotomy; despite similar goals, utilities and regulators view the world through different lenses, which makes it difficult to predict the future regulatory environment for the utility industry. That said, one thing I can say for certain is that regulations are likely to continue to become more rigid as the years go by, so now would be a good time to revisit restoration processes like handling a regulatory commission audit, community liaison tactics, and reporting priorities, to name just a few. Happy auditing!