- A U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on national electricity grid reliability took contentious testimony from American Electric Power Vice President Lisa Barton and NARUC President and Florida Public Service Commission member Lisa Edgar, among others.
- Senator Angus King (I-Maine) advocated for distributed generation. Barton and Edgar cautioned about its costs and challenges. King said distributed generation, especially solar energy, is disruptive but “we have got to figure out how to adapt to it, not fight it and strangle it in its crib.”
- Barton said distributed generation is not “a disrupter” because the grid is “a natural enabler” of technology innovation. Edgar called for “transparency” on the benefits of distributed generation as well as on its costs and who pays them.
Representatives of EPRI, Argonne National Laboratory, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory also testified. The hearing was intended to inform the congressional effort to write energy legislation. It may take on distributed generation or leave it to state regulators.
“…Distributed generation can have multiple benefits for consumers and the grid,” Edgar said. “More importantly, however, DG including solar, has idiosyncrasies and challenges that should not be ignored.”
“How do you value the plusses of distributed generation … versus the cost?” King asked. “The real question is how to facilitate rather than block what I think in the long run will be very salutary developments on behalf of all our citizens.”
“It is state regulators who are responsible for exploring costs and benefits of distributed generation, not the federal government,” Barton said.
“Americans are gaining more control over how they use and consume electricity but, as a result, the grid must be even more closely integrated. Innovation and new technologies, such as commercially viable storage, are clearly necessary,” said Committee Chair Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).