In previous newsletters, we reviewed various aspects of New York’s grid modernization initiative, known as Reforming the Energy Vision (“REV”), and advised that similar initiatives are taking place in California, Hawaii, Minnesota and Maryland.
Maryland’s case was initiated on September 26, 2016, in part as an outgrowth of the merger of Exelon and Pepco Holdings, Inc. (“Pepco”). The order issued by the Maryland Public Service Commission (“PSC”) in that merger case required Pepco to file a plan for transforming its electric distribution grid and to fund up to $500,000 for a consultant to advise the PSC on those issues. The PSC’s September 26, 2016 Notice of Public Conference (“Notice”) established a statewide proceeding “to ensure that electric distribution systems in Maryland are customer-centered, affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable,” acknowledging that it was following similar proceedings that had been initiated elsewhere in the country.
The Notice proposed “a targeted review of key aspects of Maryland’s electric distribution systems,” including: 1) rate design; 2) benefits and costs of distributed energy resources (“DERs”); 3) advanced metering infrastructure (“AMI”); 4) energy storage; 5) interconnection process; 6) distribution system planning; and 7) limited income Marylanders. Public comments were due October 28, and the PSC expects to convene a public conference in early December.
The foregoing topics, unlike in New York, include only specific electric distribution issues, and the Notice does not specifically address the potential impacts of any the proposed changes on Maryland utilities, how to keep them in business or whether proposed changes to the Maryland grid will be used to avoid investments in the state’s electric distribution systems. Also unlike New York and California, both of which have single state independent system operators (“ISOs”), Maryland is part of the PJM Interconnection (“PJM”), a multistate ISO, which includes New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and other states. How the proposed changes to the distribution grid in Maryland will be impacted by ISO regulations and practices because of its utilities membership in PJM remains to be seen.