As the electric grid continues to change in the US states are changing how they prepare for more renewable and distributed energy resources like wind and solar and particularly rooftop solar. States like California, New York and Hawaii have been some of the big innovators, but a new report from ScottMadden and Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) shows that Illinois has been quietly preparing for a distributed energy future by making policy changes and other progressive actions.
“Illinois has made significant investments in infrastructure that have prepared it well for the proliferation of distributed energy resources (DERs),” said Cristin Lyons, partner and grid transformation practice leader at ScottMadden. “These investments, coupled with performance-based ratemaking have laid an important foundation so that when DERs arrive at scale, the state will be ready.”
The report found that over the past two decades, the state’s legislature has changed the way electricity is generated, sold and consumed in the state. The report cited the legislature’s passage of a law to allow energy efficiency and certain distributed generation type to be considered“regulatory assets” allowing utilities to earn a return on them.
The report noted that the state has created a pathway for a net metering successor in the state. That successor could tie compensation for distributed generation to locational grid benefits. The state created real-time pricing programs for retail customers. It’s also allowing utilities’ smart grid test beds to pilot new technologies and business models. Already utilities like Amaren are piloting innovative microgrid systems to test how they’ll impact the grid.
“Illinois is an exciting field of study because the state is making significant progress across all major aspects of grid transformation,” said Vazken Kassakhian, the SEPA research analyst who co-authored the report. “We see major investments in advanced technologies for the distribution grid, and compelling groundwork for a future where delivery of electricity is more efficient and offers customers more choices. The other side of the equation is that utilities will have more opportunities to manage a potential influx of customer-sited resources to yield value back to the grid.”
Illinois has funded upgrades to utility infrastructure and increased reliability and automation of its electric grid. It also implemented a performance-based, ratemaking process that ties utilities’ earnings to their work to upgrade infrastructure. All this, according to the report, means that the state is now for the rapid growth of distributed energy resources.Tweet