- The Public Service Commission of Utah on June 28 approved three demand-side management projects designed to boost storage, electrified transportation and grid management in the state.
- There were few objections to the trio of projects, authorized under the Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan (STEP) Act of 2016, though regulators did require additional reporting and data collection to provide estimates of ongoing costs. The largest project, which includes installation of automated meter reading facilities and other technologies to enable real-time communication with Rocky Mountain Power's control center, faced some pushback based on how it will be funded.
- The other projects include an intermodal hub project focused on addressing the costs of high voltage vehicle charging and a demand response project, with batteries installed in each residence of a 600-unit multi-family development.
The three projects aim to modernize and automate Rocky Mountain Power's system, helping it to respond more effectively to outages while turning to energy storage for more efficient grid management. There was minimal controversy surrounding the proposals, leading regulators to quickly approve almost $22 million in projects the utility proposed in March.
But while Utah Clean Energy indicated it supported the $16.5 million Advanced Resiliency Management System (ARMS) project, the group also recommended it be funded through general ratepayer funds instead of STEP Act funds, due to the utility's claim of approximately $71 million of anticipated net customer benefits. Regulators nixed that idea, saying the utility is "implementing an innovative software solution" and the projects are a "reasonable use" of STEP funds.
The ARMS project includes installation of automated meter reading facilities, communication radios on distribution line equipment and deployment of additional line sensor technology. The modernization efforts are designed to allow RMP control center operators real-time access to information during major outages.
The $2 million intermodal hub project will be run in conjunction with Utah State University’s Sustainable Electrified Transportation Center and the state's transit authority. The charging and electrification project will combine, at a single site, the electric needs of a light rail system, electric buses, interstate and urban passenger and truck traffic, park-and-ride customers, and first-and-last mile ride hailing and car share service providers.
The $3.27 million battery demand response project will be executed in partnership with Wasatch Development. Plans call for batteries to be charged by solar facilities, with the utility able to deploy them for system-wide demand response.
Regulators also called for RMP to begin discussion of an "exit strategy" for STEP projects, and develop a data sharing process "to ensure parties agree on the type, granularity, format, and timing of information to be provided," related to ongoing project costs.