Colorado, Texas, Minnesota and New York -- across the country, debates around net metering, rate reform and other solar issues that once appeared stalemated have recently been settled through collaborative negotiations between utilities, solar organizations and other industry stakeholders. Tradeoffs have been made and compromises crafted to maintain the continued growth of solar and other distributed energy resources (DERs), while also ensuring utilities have the revenues they need to provide all customers with safe, reliable, affordable and increasingly clean power.
While these instances of consensus are promising, they are simply first steps. They create a foundation for future compromise, but they are still limited in the extent to which they can resolve core issues, such as --
• What, if any, value DERs can provide to the grid?
• Who is best suited to deploy them, and how might they be compensated?
• How should the resulting impacts on utility business models and the power sector in general be handled?
The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) has long viewed collaboration and cross-industry partnerships as critical building blocks for both the growth of solar and other distributed technologies, and the energy transition now underway in the United States. In the past two years, we have intensified our focus on studying and creating replicable, collaborative models through which industry stakeholders with apparently opposing interests can build the communication and trust needed to forge compromise solutions.
This work has been theoretical and conceptual -- creating visions and roadmaps for industry transition through our 51st State Initiative -- as well as practical and very hands-on, through our role as utility consultants, facilitating cross-industry working groups for a number of initiatives.
We will be sharing this work at Solar Power International (SPI) with a special tradeshow edition of our upcoming report, “The 51st State: Blueprints for Energy Market Reform,” which lays out basic doctrines and guidelines for building collaborative processes from the ground up.
For a more in-depth and spirited discussion of these issues, check out our session, “Turning Today’s Visions into Tomorrow’s Reality: What It Takes to Reinvent an Electricity Market,” set for 1-2 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Christine Stearn, SEPA’s 51st State project manager, will be moderating a panel of industry experts who have participated in the initiative and will share their insights on industry transition and how to achieve consensus on sensitive issues.
“Building a foundation of communication and trust first, through common understandings, can prepare the ground for conversations on more sensitive or divisive issues,” said Stearn. “Mastering the skills and concepts underlying this process will be critical as the growth of solar and other distributed technologies, along with rising customer demand, continue to drive industry change.”
To get a copy of “The 51st State: Blueprints for Energy Market Reform,” visit SEPA at Booth 1959.
Other SEPA events at SPI include:
• SEPA’s 2016 Solar Power Players Awards Luncheon, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 12
A networking event you won’t want to miss, the Solar Power Players luncheon will honor utilities and technology companies that are pushing the envelope on industry innovation and collaboration. Advanced reservations required.
• Integrating Distributed Energy Resources Into the Grid, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12
This one-day workshop brings utility engineers and planners together with technology vendors, researchers, and manufacturers to explore the effective integration of distributed energy resources into the electric grid.
• Solar Plus: How Solar Got Smart, 8-9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13
SEPA President and CEO Julia Hamm leads a panel discussion with top solar and utility executives on the need for a more holistic approach to pairing solar and distributed technologies to create programs and projects that benefit customers and the grid.
• Taking the Pulse: Market Insights and Opportunities, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13
Tanuj Deora, SEPA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, digs into solar market trends, opportunities and challenges ahead with a panel of industry experts.
SEPA contact: K Kaufmann, firstname.lastname@example.org