Event Information:

  • Sat

    NRRI Colloquium

    2:30 PMMeeting Room Marina 4, Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, San Diego, California

    Proposed Topics for the NRRI Colloquium in San Diego (7/15/17)

    Ken Costello - Natural Gas under Siege 

    The U.S. natural gas industry has enjoyed a great run over the past 8 years.  It has contributed to the economy by creating new jobs and significantly reducing households’ and businesses’ energy bills, and to the environment by accelerating the retirement of coals plants.  Up until the two or so years most environmental groups have viewed natural gas favorably in facilitating the transition to a low-carbon environment.  Today, these groups as well as others have changed their perspective of natural gas.  They see natural gas as a barrier to achieving climate change targets that, in their minds, will help assure against catastrophes.  They propose to phase out, as quickly as possible, the use of natural gas in electricity generation and to include in the dialogue the idea of residential and business customers switching their consumption of natural gas and other fossil fuels for space heating, water heating, and other end uses to electricity (labeled “electrification”). This presentation will examine these proposals in terms of their merits and how state utility commissions can address them.

    Kathryn Kline - Distribution System Investment Charges: A Retrospective

     Distribution System Investment Charges (DSIC) were first implemented in Pennsylvania over two decades ago to allow for non-revenue producing investments to replace aging infrastructure. Benefits of implementing these charges include: enhanced quality of service, fewer leaks, avoidance of rate shock, and significant progress in replacing aging infrastructure.  Currently over 17 states allow for some form of a DSIC for water, wastewater, and even sometimes natural gas utilities. This presentation will present an overview of which states currently use some form of Distribution System Investment Charge, which utilities are eligible to use DSIC charges, and what types of systems most frequently utilize this regulatory tool. It will also review arguments for and against the use of DSIC, and present brief case studies presenting different utility experiences with DSICs.

    Sherry Lichtenberg - Broadband Adoption:  A State Perspective

    The National Broadband Plan envisioned extending broadband availability throughout the country by modifying the focus of existing universal service initiatives to include the ability for all citizens of the United States to access both voice and high speed data services regardless of their location - urban, rural, or insular, including tribal lands.  Since the Plan's release, the FCC has used the federal Universal Service High Cost Fund, rechristened the Connect America Fund (CAF), to extend broadband availability, redefine broadband speed requirements, and create initiatives to make broadband services available to all.  The States have met this challenge by creating or refocusing state funds to support broadband build out and creating new programs to increase the adoption and use of broadband by their citizens, including establishing state broadband funds.  This paper will review state efforts to increase broadband availability and adoption through the development of state broadband programs, the funding of broadband initiatives as an adjunct to federal programs, including broadband in state universal service programs, and including broadband in state-funded Lifeline programs.  The paper will also examine the impact of the technology transition and the reduction of state oversight of IP and wireless services on the states' ability to encourage universal broadband deployment.

    Tom Stanton - Updating State Utility Interconnection Rules for Improved Distribution System Modeling and Advanced Inverter Functions

    Distributed generation (DG) interconnection rules have been adopted by at least 32 states and the District of Columbia.  Such rules describe the procedures used by applicants and utilities to ensure that applications are processed expeditiously and the interconnected systems will not harm the utility system or any other utility customer’s equipment. This research paper, co-authored by Michael Coddington, Principal Engineer for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, briefly summarizes the current status of interconnection rules and reviews the many changes now being developed within the IEEE and Underwriters Laboratory (UL) standards working groups, as well as the various screening methods used for evaluating interconnection applications that states and utilities have recently updated.  Updated standards, along with rapid progress in modeling software used to evaluate proposed DG interconnections offer the triple promises of:

    • (1) higher levels of grid hosting capacity for DG;
    • (2) improved processing timelines for both applicants and utilities; and,
    • (3) reduced risks of negatively impacting electric reliability and overall safety.

    The paper also reviews several practices for facilitating safe and reliable interconnections that are already working well in some jurisdictions, and that could be readily adopted by other states and utilities.