As promised during Solar Power International this year Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has launched a new website called The 51st State designed to help reimagine the U.S.’s energy infrastructure as an integrated entity where solar is more easily integrated into the grid from all aspects from utilities to solar installers for manufacturers and customers.
Today (Nov. 17), the solar advocacy organization, SEPA unveiled the new website and its first challenge, a request for submissions on how energy markets could be created in the 51st State.The organization said its goal is to find multiple frameworks that resonate with all involved and to provide a platform where all stakeholders can help create the future of energy in the U.S.
The organization will accept submissions through Feb. 27 and will post all submissions on the website for public review. Then SEPA along with industry experts will identify innovative approaches and host events allowing the authors of those submissions to discuss their ideas.
In its guidelines SEPA discusses the issues of distributed generation (aka rooftop and other small solar installations) and how DG, which includes net-metering, has become a hot button issue in many states. “Often, the tone and nature of these discussions have turned caustic, making it difficult, if not impossible, to have constructive conversations,” SEPA said. “Utilities and solar stakeholders are getting entrenched in arguments about costs and benefits instead of considering the existence of common goals and objectives or outcomes that could result in win-win situations. Regulators are then left in the unenviable position of navigating emotionally charged proceedings with different sides loudly proclaiming the merits of their respective arguments.”
By redefining the underlying constructs of DG SEPA hopes to change the discussion. “We propose instead a blank slate with no pre-existing programs, conditions, market structures or even rate designs that could influence the perspectives brought to the table. This hypothetical ‘51st State’ provides the canvas on which all affected stakeholders—electric utilities, policymakers, regulators, project developers, customers and advocates—can flesh out ideas for a long-term, sustainable market.”
The 51st State is looking for ideas that support power generation, transmission and distribution but beyond is open to regulation and deregulation designs that incorporate non-traditional utility infrastructure. It also is interested in creating a: “Strong and vibrant solar and distributed energy resources market, in both the short- and long-term, starting with distributed resources that reflect current trends nationwide.”Tweet