- The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has started to investigate how new technology may challenge the traditional utility business model.
- The investigation will focus on: distributed generation and energy storage; energy efficiency and customer load management services; utility-scale energy storage; smart meters; automated transmission and distribution; and, micro-grids, according to ACC Commissioner Robert Burns.
- Burns plans to hold a series of workshops on the issue next year.
Earlier this year, the ACC dropped possible plans to allow power suppliers compete directly with the state's utilities for customers. Instead, the commission decided to get more information on issues related to the so-called utility death spiral.
“At some point, [distributed] technology will likely be cheap enough for many more entities to employ, and they will have an opportunity to go off the grid,” Burns said in a November letter to fellow commissioners. “My concern is that when that occurs, the remaining ratepayers – which would likely be mostly residential – may be left to pick up the cost of the grid. This could also become a critical issue when a viable, affordable energy storage mechanism is developed.”