During Q2 2016, there were 121 policy actions taken in 42 states related to distributed energy resources (DER), according to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center. About a third of the actions were increases in residential fixed charges, another third were changes to net-metering, and the remaining third were solar valuation studies, community solar, residential solar charges, third-party ownership of solar and utility-led rooftop PV programs. It would be an understatement to say that utilities are grappling with the new energy landscape.
However, I believe that we have the technologies and the brains to figure out what will be the most efficient and cost-effective way to buy, sell and manage energy using DER. I’m pretty sure we’ll need to move ratepayers to time-of use-rates or even real-time rates. I’m pretty sure the solution will incorporate the Internet of Things (IoT) so that our appliances can communicate with the grid and let us know when they should be turned on or off based on the price of energy at the moment. If we have PV and/or a battery, I’m fairly sure that those will also be internet-enabled so they know when to direct the energy they produce to the home and when to put it on the grid, again, in response to price signals.
What I don’t know is if all of these solutions are affordable. And I’m not clear about how we will use them in conjunction with each other. Utilities and companies are launching pilot projects and studies left and right to see if they can figure it all out.
All in all, though, I’ve got my fingers crossed that once we arrive at a solution, utilities, solar-enabled homes and businesses, and energy storage providers will all be compensated properly.
Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor