center for partnerships & innovation

NARUC Center for Partnerships & Innovation

Innovation Webinars

Emerging Issues

Every month, the NARUC Center for Partnerships & Innovation organizes an Innovation Webinar on an emerging issue in electricity regulation. Held on Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, these educational webinars are open to the public.

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, CPI is pleased to connect its members and the public with new research, subject-matter experts, and diverse opinions on a variety of issues relevant to public utility commissions. Presentation slides and recordings for past webinars are posted on this webpage.

 

Upcoming Innovation Webinars:

 

Alleviating the Energy Burden: Regulatory Approaches to Supporting Affordability

June 16, 2022 | 3:30 - 4:30 PM Eastern

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for state utility regulators to look closely at energy affordability. To aid customers, regulators are hearing input from utilities, consumer advocates, technology companies, and other stakeholders on how to measure and improve energy affordability. On this webinar, three experts will share their unique approaches to affordability and discuss how public utility commissions can be partners in efforts to alleviate the energy burden.

Moderator: Hon. Mary Throne, Wyoming

Speakers:

  • Corey Dahl, Regulatory Analyst, Washington State Office of the Attorney General
  • Glenn Schatz, Chief Revenue Officer, BlocPower
  • Boris Lukanov, Senior Scientist, PSE Healthy Energy

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Past Innovation Webinars

This webinar highlights innovative energy work happening at universities.  Gems hidden in in plain sight, there is a wealth of innovative energy research and development happening at over 150 institutions of higher learning across the country. In addition to developing technologies that are eventually deployed within the industry, these institutions educate the next generation of energy sector leaders through education, coursework, and hands-on experiences. Academic energy centers also frequently partner with the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) 17 national laboratories which NARUC regularly features in this webinar series. Join NARUC’s Center for Partnerships and Innovation to learn more about university-sponsored energy innovation centers and the role they play creating our energy future.  

Moderator: John Morrison, President and CEO of E4Carolinas

Speakers:

  • Robert Cox, Ph.D., UNC Charlotte Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC)
  • Ken Dulaney, Director of Industry and Innovation, FREEDM Systems Center at NC State
  • Jay Whitacre, Director of the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University

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Transactive energy operates the electricity grid in near-real time by using value to balance and control supply and demand. Transactive energy can be implemented at the residential level, as well as commercial and industrial, in near-real time, and drive electricity peak demand savings and bill savings. In January 2022, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory released a report on how such a system might work in practice: the Distribution System Operation with Transactive (DSOP+T) Study. Additionally, pilots in the US and Europe have been successfully implemented and studied. In this webinar, experts in the industry will describe the status of transactive energy.

Moderator: Chair Phil Bartlett, Maine Public Utilities Commission

Speakers:

  • Larisa Dobriansky, Director, General MicroGrids; SEPA Transactive Energy Working Group's Regulatory Project
  • Claudio Lima, Chair, IEE Blockchain Transactive Energy (BCTE) Initiative
  • Hayden Reeve, Senior Technical Advisor, Pacific Northwest National Lab

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Electric vehicle (EV) sales are anticipated to grow rapidly in the next decade as policy and industry shift to decarbonize the transportation sector. The Biden Administration has signaled strong support for EV deployment, establishing the goal for 50 percent of all new light-duty vehicles to be zero-emission by 2030. Additionally, through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, $5 billion of funding was allocated to support the deployment of EV charging infrastructure. As a greater number of EVs hit the road and charging infrastructure expands, a crucial consideration remains - how the power grids and distribution networks can handle the substantial increase in electricity demand.  Managed charging, or smart charging, provides an opportunity to relieve stress on the grid by enabling demand-side flexibility, a feature that is particularly important for the overwhelming share of charging that is expected to occur at the residential level. During this webinar, panelists will explore the value of managed charging for the grid, utilities, and customers, and introduce solutions such as behavioral analytics, load shifting, and digital customer engagement to support grid-beneficial residential EV charging.

Moderator: Commissioner Carolee Williams, South Carolina Public Service Commission

Speakers:

  • Maria Kretzing, Director of Innovation, Bidgely Inc.
  • Matteo Muratori, Team Lead - Integrated Transportation and Energy Systems Analysis, NREL
  • Joseph Vellone, Head of North America, ev.energy

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The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, cybersecurity intrusions, and physical security dangers continue to threaten extended disruptions to utility services. There exists a distinct possibility that any of these events could escalate into a full-scale Black Sky event, a catastrophic multi-regional event disrupting utility services over an extended time period. Simultaneously, the energy portfolio of the future will be one that is increasingly generated via renewable assets.  State governments, utilities, and private sector suppliers will need to accommodate a highly renewable supply future into their emergency management planning. This is particularly true for Black Sky hazard planning and mitigation. This panel will explore how the ‘black start’ restoration model will change when supply is increasingly generated via renewable assets and by distributed energy resources. Panelists will explore how renewables might create a more flexible ‘black start’ restoration and how a highly renewable supply future impacts Black Sky planning and mitigation.

Moderator: Chair Gladys Brown-Dutrieuille, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission

Speakers:

  • Mike Bryson, Senior Vice President - Operations, PJM
  • Gab-Su Seo, Senior Electrical Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Dr. Paul Stockton, Chair of DOE’s Advisory Subcommittee on Grid Resilience for National Security, and Senior Fellow, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

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As state legislatures have increasingly charged public utility commissions with overseeing the implementation of a wide array of renewables, efficiency, and distributed energy resource (DER) policies and programs that are intended to meet a variety of state goals (e.g., greenhouse gas reductions, electric vehicle electrification, equity), approaches to evaluating the benefits and costs of such investments are evolving too. This webinar looked at how utilities and utility commissions are updating their approaches to developing benefit-cost analyses, identifying metrics that are important to consider, and including non-energy benefits in their evaluations of potential investments. Panelists shared examples of frameworks and specific state approaches related to energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and other DERs.

Moderator: Commissioner Cecile Fraser, Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities

Speakers:

  • Julie Michals, Director of Valuation, E4TheFuture
  • Steven Schiller, Senior Advisor, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Mark Warner, Vice President, Gabel Associates

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Electric Vehicle Benefit/Cost Analysis Methodology Whitepaper

This webinar provides an overview of a forthcoming white paper on state approaches to intervenor compensation across the country. Intervenor compensation is the practice of reimbursing individuals or groups for the costs of their involvement in state utility regulatory proceedings. These groups advocate for views and issues that may otherwise not be introduced into the proceeding by the utility, large customers, state utility consumer advocates, attorneys general offices, or others. Programs have been developed in several states to encourage participation at all stages of proceedings before the state Commissions where the costs to intervene would otherwise create a financial hardship. This paper reviews the states with legislative authorization for intervenor compensation, the states with active intervenor compensation programs, and provides insights on program implementation through several case studies.

Moderator: Chair Rebecca Valcq, Wisconsin

Speakers:

  • Dr. Mark Toney, Executive Director, The Utiliy Reform Network
  • Michelle Hubbard, Senior Director, Power, Renewables and Utilities, FTI Consulting
  • Timothy O'Connor, Senior Director and Senior Attorney, Energy Transition Strategy, Environmental Defense Fund

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Vegetation management is frequently the largest single line item for electric utilities, totaling to nearly $7 billion in annual spending across the U.S. Despite this level of expenditures, fallen trees are still a major challenge to reliability. In the West, the combination of high winds and dry vegetation can lead to devastating wildfires; while in the East, more frequent and intense storms can increase the risks of fallen trees on power lines. This webinar will look at how utilities are applying data-driven, risk-based tactics and new technologies such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, satellite data, native seed mixes and soil- and pollinator-friendly vegetation management strategies to prioritize spending and control costs. Panelists will share their thoughts on how state utility regulators can help guide better approaches to vegetation management./p>

Moderator: Hon. Dan Scripps, Michigan Public Service Commission

Speakers:

  • Dr. Ashley Bennett, Environmental Research Scientist, Electric Power Research Institute
  • Brad Smith, Vice President, AiDash
  • Ryan Yanek, Manager of Distribution Planning and Asset Management, PPL Electric Utilities

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The costs of widespread and long-duration power interruptions are generally not or only incompletely considered in utility planning activities. Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory (LBNL) researchers will describe a new approach for estimating the economic costs of widespread and long-duration power interruptions. This method, which LBNL calls "POET" (Power Outage Economics Tool), involves using survey responses from utility customers to calibrate a regional economic model that can estimate both the direct and indirect costs of these events. Including better estimates of these costs will enhance both the comprehensiveness and completeness of the considerations relied on to support utility planning decisions, especially on grid hardening strategies and other capital-intensive investments in electricity sector resilience.  LBNL will conclude with a discussion about how POET is being piloted in Commonwealth Edison's service territory, then feature an emerging public-private partnership to update LBNL’s Interruption Cost Estimate (ICE) Calculator.

Moderator: Ashton Raffety, Senior Technical Program Officer, NARUC

Speakers:

  • Peter Larson, Staff Scientist/Department Head, Electricity Markets and Policy Department, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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As the power grid evolves and states set new goals for clean energy, equity, resilience, and other objectives relating to energy infrastructure, public utility commissions (PUCs) across the country are increasingly faced with making decisions that are complex, broad in impact, and intersectional across an array of issues. In this challenging decision-making environment, some PUCs are embarking on stakeholder engagement processes that not only prioritize affordable, safe, and reliable utility services, but also consider these newer and more expansive policy objectives. These emerging processes have the potential to enable more informed decision-making by creating inclusive forums for stakeholder participation, but they must be well-designed to achieve intended outcomes. This webinar will explore the approaches PUCs can take to create robust and inclusive stakeholder processes by addressing:Key decision points for commissions to consider in planning stakeholder engagement processes; Lessons learned and best practices for stakeholder engagement; and; Principles for participatory justice at PUCs.

Moderator: Chair Megan Decker, Oregon Public Utilities Commission

Speakers:

  • Commissioner Obi Linton, Maryland Public Service Commission
  • Chandra Farley, CEO, ReSolve Consulting and Environment & Climate Justice Chair, Georgia NAACP
  • Jasmine McAdams, Program Officer NARUC

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Virtual power plants (VPPs) are systems that manage a network of distributed energy resources (DERs) of various types across a geographic area, aggregating control of those resources to provide and be compensated for energy, capacity, and/or services to the grid. VPPs have been discussed within electricity circles for more than 20 years, with the first named installation in Germany in 2012. In recent years, increasing advances in distributed technologies, sensors and controls, communications, and automation have led to an increase in VPP installations across Europe, Australia, Japan, and the United States. During this webinar, participants will hear from speakers who have been analyzing, developing, and operating VPPs. The discussion will focus on specific examples where DERs are being aggregated to act as resources and/or grid assets in addition to providing customer benefits. We will explore how the installed VPPs are working from both an operational/technical and economic/policy perspective. Audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions.

Moderator: Lea Márquez Peterson, Chairwoman, Arizona Corporation Commission

Speakers:

  • Dr. Gabrielle Kuiper, Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, IEEFA
  • Cisco DeVries, CEO, OhmConnect
  • Graham Turk, Innovation Strategist, Green Mountain Power

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Historically, synchronous fossil fuel and nuclear generators with spinning reserves have provided a suite of reliability services, like frequency response and voltage control, to keep the grid running smoothly. But as generation from nonsynchronous resources like solar, wind, and energy storage grows, with these resources expected to account for more than 80 percent of new electric generation capacity coming online this year, key questions are emerging for those responsible for grid reliability. Namely, what are the reliability implications and capabilities of inverter-based resources? What strategies do grid operators employ to maintain reliability while integrating more renewable energy? Do state energy regulators need to rethink how reliability services are defined and procured? And what should regulators be considering to make sure their states’ evolving power grids can deliver reliable and clean power? This webinar is part of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners – Center for Partnerships & Innovation’s monthly webinar series, exploring timely topics in electricity regulation. The webinar will be open to the public with the intended audience being NARUC’s membership of state energy regulators and regulatory staff. Time will be reserved for Q and A.

Moderator: Commissioner Kim O’Guinn, Arkansas Public Service Commission

Speakers:

  • Mark Ahlstrom, VP, Renewable Energy Policy, NextEra Energy Resources & NextEra Analytics, Inc. and President, Energy Systems Integration Group
  • Drake Bartlett, Senior Market Operations Analyst, Xcel Energy
  • Julia Matevosyan, Lead Planning Engineer, Resource Adequacy, Electric Reliability Council of Texas
  • Sheila Tandon Manz, PhD, Director, Decarbonization Planning, GE Energy Consulting

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This webinar will highlight public utility commission (PUC) workforce challenges and how PUCs can more effectively recruit and retain employees or otherwise acquire niche expertise to accomplish goals. As the energy sector evolves, so will PUC’s need for qualified individuals with technical expertise who are dedicated to public service. Join this webinar to hear about PUC workforce challenges and solutions firsthand, including new energy sector workforce development projects being undertaken by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Moderator: David A. Alexander – Legal Counsel to the Chairman, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and Chair, NARUC Staff Subcommittee on Critical Infrastructure

Speakers:

  • Commissioner Susan Duffy, Kansas Corporation Commission
  • David Parsons, Chief of Policy and Research, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission
  • Brandi Martin, SLTT Program Manager, Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response, U.S. Department of Energy

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Rooftop solar, and distributed energy resources (DER) generally, represent an integral and growing part of the electric grid.  Increasingly, these resources are connecting to the grid to provide services for grid reliability purposes. Industry standards exist to ensure interoperability but cybersecurity has been an afterthought, even as the threat of crippling cyber attacks is growing.  Complicating the landscape, a recent report by the GAO notes that the impacts of such attacks involving DER on the distribution grid is uncertain, making the identification of effective cybersecurity measures challenging. Join this webinar to learn more about the drivers accelerating solar adoption, the new cybersecurity risk landscape for solar and efforts underway to address the challenges, and the roles that state commissions and energy offices play in shaping the future of grid reliability, security, and resilience.

Moderator: Lynn Costantini, Deputy Director, NARUC

Speakers:

  • Jeremiah Miller - Systems Integration Technology Manager, Solar Energy Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Kirsten Verclas - Program Director, Electricity and CATSS Project Lead, National Association of State Energy Officials

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Public utility commissions and electric utilities across the country are increasingly incorporating equity considerations in their decision-making processes: ensuring that the costs and benefits of energy infrastructure are fairly distributed among customers without disproportionately impacting any subsets of ratepayers. For example, following the passage of the Clean Energy Transformation Act in Washington State, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission recently adopted rules requiring regulated utilities to consider equity in purchasing practices and in the state’s transition to clean energy. As equity becomes a key factor in energy decisions, regulators, utilities, and other stakeholders are exploring and considering strategies to leverage data in a way that best serves over-burdened and vulnerable populations. This webinar will explore approaches to the collection, reporting, and analysis of energy sector data to empower energy equity. The discussion will address questions such as: How can regulators define and assess equity in the energy sector? How can we measure equitable progress towards decarbonization? What are the ramifications of utility data reporting requirements?

Moderator: Commissioner Ann Rendahl, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

Speakers:

  • Subin DeVar, Co-Founder, Initiative for Energy Justice
  • Lauren Ross, Director of Policy, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
  • Hassan Shaban, Principal, Empower Dataworks
  • Mariel Thuraisingham, Clean Energy Policy Lead, Front and Centered

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Justice in 100 Metrics Report
Quantitative Energy Equity Report

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools, often dependent on enabling investments in cloud computing or software-as-a-service platforms, hold great potential for enhancing energy utility service. However, AI tools are relatively new to utilities and state energy regulators, and more information is needed to build a track record on the costs and benefits of AI investments. On this webinar, panelists will present their views on the value of AI to utilities and customers, important concerns regulators should keep in mind when considering AI proposals, and barriers to broader AI use across the utility industry.

Moderator: Chairman Willie Phillips, District of Columbia Public Service Commission

Speakers:

  • Rick Cutter, Founder & Managing Director, Cloud for Utilities
  • Heather Feldman, Director, R&D, Electric Power Research Institute
  • David Victor, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Energy Security and Climate Initiative, Brookings Institution and Professor of International Relations, School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego

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Commercial & industrial (C&I) customers collectively use over half of the electricity generated in the U.S. Businesses of all sectors and sizes are increasingly setting ambitious corporate goals to use clean or renewable energy to power their operations and facilities, including roughly half of the Fortune 500. In 2018, corporate buyers accounted for over one-fifth of the renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPAs) in the U.S. and have collectively deployed over 23 GW of new renewable energy over the last 5 years. At the same time, 23 states and DC have implemented statewide greenhouse gas targets and 50 utilities have noted carbon or emission reduction goals. However, different policy and market structures constrain options available to C&I customers to buy the renewable energy they want across markets in the US. For example, RPS expansions have the potential to green the grid for all customers, but do not necessarily enable C&I customers to go beyond state established renewable energy targets. Speakers will discuss regulatory barriers to expanding C&I purchasing and opportunities to resolve these challenges.

Moderator: Commissioner Ann Rendahl, Washington

Speakers:

  • Chairman Carrie Zalewski, Illinois
  • Bryn Baker, Director, Policy Innovation, Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance
  • Jeff Riles, Global Energy Markets and Policy, Google
  • Mariah Kennedy, Head of Data Center Energy Strategy (Global), Microsoft

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Announcements of new offshore wind developments and state strategies for growth seem to be increasing every week. This webinar will share a snapshot of the industry and highlight motivations and approaches for encouraging growth in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Speakers will also discuss key utility regulatory barriers and potential drivers for offshore wind.

Moderator: David Littell, Senior Advisor, RAP

Speakers:

  • Joe Martens, Director, Alliance of Clean Energy NY
  • Hon. Jason Stanek, Chairman, Maryland Public Service Commission
  • Frederick Zalcman, Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs, Orsted

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Currently, many new storage devices, particularly batteries, are built to support peak load. However, projects are emerging that will provide energy storage support for the bulk energy system. Commissions face decisions that impact seasonal balancing, resource adequacy, load firming, and other long-term planning. On this webinar, we will discuss emerging technical possibilities for providing storage support to the bulk energy system, featuring takeaways from an upcoming 1-MW, 150-hour aqueous battery pilot project with Great River Energy and Form Energy. Greg Padden, Director of Resource Planning and Markets at Great River Energy will discuss their decision-making on conducting the pilot project. Additionally, regulatory considerations and market barriers for bulk energy storage will be highlighted by Jason Houck, Policy and Regulatory Affairs Lead at Form Energy. The panel will open with recent research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, presented by Josh Eichman, on the value and cost-competitiveness of seasonal energy storage technologies for the integration of wind and solar. To close, Heidi Ratz, U.S. Electricity Markets Manager at the World Resources Institute, will discuss policy considerations for the role of long-duration storage. This webinar will be moderated by Chairman Philip L. Bartlett II, Maine.

Moderator: Chairman Philip L. Bartlett II, Maine

Speakers:

  • Josh Eichman, Senior Research Engineer, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Greg Padden, Director of Resource Planning & Markets, Great River Energy
  • Jason Houck, Policy and Regulatory Affairs Lead, Form Energy
  • Heidi Bishop Ratz, U.S. Electricity Markets, Manager

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