- The Illinois Commerce Commission yesterday launched an 18-month study focused on finding new technologies, utility business models and regulatory strategies to transform the state's grid into a more flexible and efficient resource.
- The NextGrid study will be led by an outside facilitator and will result in a final report late in 2018 that will include "tangible recommendations" to the ICC and Illinois General Assembly.
- The study mirrors other grid modernization efforts and holistic utility reviews happening in New York, California, Ohio and other states.
It's no longer just a few states undertaking so-called "utility of the future" proceedings. Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maryland and now Illinois have all launched some form of these dockets.
The ICC, in a statement announcing the NextGrid proceeding, said "many experts believe that the electric utility industry will evolve more in the next ten years than it has in the past century with new technologies changing the way electricity is bought, sold, generated and consumed. This transformation raises important questions about how all aspects of the system interact and what that may mean for consumers, regulators, utilities and other stakeholders."
The study, launched as a a "statewide collaborative," includes a wide range of stakeholders: Citizens Utility Board, ComEd and the state's attorney general all signed on to the announcement.
Environmental Defense Fund said it has also been working with CUB on a new regulatory framework aimed at "empowering customers and communities, driving economic development, and creating an innovative, 21st-century utility business model."
ICC Chairman Brien Sheahan cited the state's long history of "progressive leadership in energy policy," from customer choice laws in 1997 to the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act. "We need to support innovation by utilities that builds on our strengths, creates value for consumers, and contributes to growth and development," he said in a statement.
The study complements Exelon's Future Energy Jobs legislation, and was also convened at the recommendation of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s transition committee. Among other things, the 2016 law doubled the state’s energy efficiency portfolio and incentivized renewable energy development.