Oregon lawmakers clear bill to study how grid modernization trends impact utilities
- The Oregon House and Senate have each passed Senate Bill 978, directing state regulators to take up a review of electric grid modernization impacts as a result of new technologies, policies and incentives.
- The law, if signed by Gov. Kate Brown (D), would direct the Public Utility Commission to study whether the regulatory model needs to change, the role of independent power producers under current model, and possible incentives for utilities to build capacity themselves.
- Oregon now joins a growing list of states taking a look at how utilities are regulated and how emerging policy and technological industry trends impact the power sector.
Oregon now joins the ranks of states focused on how technology and cleaner energy resources are transforming the utility business model, with an eye towards making changes.
The new law would direct the Public Utility Commission to "establish a public process for investigating how developing industry trends, technologies and policy drivers impact the existing regulatory system and incentives currently used by the commission."
If signed by Brown, the new law would require the PUC to provide an opportunity for public comment and to report to interim legislative committees by September 2018. According to a summary of the bill, supporters believe the the rate-setting process "creates incentives for electric utilities to acquire more expensive power generation than to seek the lowest price for electricity on the market."
Dozens of states are tackling utility and power sector regulation, with an eye towards developing new resources and rethinking how utilities profit.
According to a report earlier this year, issued by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, there was some type of action in 37 states and the District of Columbia in the first quarter of this year, adding up to 148 state and utility-level enacted, pending, or proposed actions.
- Oregon Legislative Assembly SB 978
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