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Draft Illinois NextGrid Grid Modernization Final Report Posted, Recommends Prioritizing Three Issues

December 17, 2018

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Copyright 2010-17
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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The Illinois Commerce Commission has posted a draft final report in its NextGrid grid modernization proceeding

Although the report discusses stakeholder views on various issues, including the retail market, the role of utilities versus competitive retail suppliers, data access, and distributed energy compensation, the report does not contain any policy recommendations

The draft final report notes that, "There was no attempt to develop consensus in these discussions as such an objective was not within the scope of the NextGrid study. The WG [workgroup] reports, briefly summarized below, reflect these clearly and in adequate detail the diverse views that the discussions elicited."

The draft final report notes that, "The NextGrid Study was not intended to develop a specific roadmap for Illinois to pursue. Rather, the intent was to gather a body of appropriate knowledge, information and awareness to get as comprehensive a picture as possible of the challenges and opportunities of the future grid and potential practical approaches, on which to embark."

"[T]he Study was not designed to be a consensus building exercise but more of an information gathering process so as to become better acquainted with the desires and viewpoints of all the stakeholders," the draft final report notes

Rather than endorsing specific policies, the draft final report states that, "In virtually every topic area, further studies and investigations need to be undertaken before Illinois is ready to embark on a specific course of action. Indeed, for each issue there is a need for careful and detailed planning of a systematic effort to perform the associated work after the necessary steps are taken to gather the needed knowledge and Illinois-centric information ahead of the selection of a specific approach."

Concerning a working group (WG4) addressing customer participation, and policies, programs and regulatory responses, the draft final report states that, "The construction of the appropriate answers to myriad regulatory policy questions will require further studies at a deeper level and the discussions among the WG4 members posed an extensive list of threshold questions to frame the key issues together with a set of specific issues to be addressed by policy makers. These are all deserving of in-depth investigation and comprehensive analysis to ensure that the future grid meets tomorrow’s needs as the provision of resilient, safe, reliable, affordable, efficient and sustainable electricity service continues to all Illinois customers and communities."

Concerning a working group (WG5) addressing electricity markets, whose focus centered on the possibility to establish transactive electricity markets at the distribution level nodes to allow the trade of electricity on a regional basis, the draft final report states that, "The WG did not include the development of a market design within its scope, rather the WG5 participating stakeholders suggested a process and a path for the ICC to follow as it engages in a market design process intended to create a fair and open framework in which DERs are valuable resources."

"The WG5 discussions suggest that the process for the ICC to explore retail market design needs to start with a vision, an idealized proposition of desired outcomes, including one which is an expanded domain of value creation for and by customers via competitive markets. From the perspective of that vision, the task is to develop a roadmap, with specified high-level incremental end points that correspond to the vision. The roadmap can be used to develop functionality requirements and design principles based on those explored in the WG5 deliberations," the draft final report states

The draft final report did contain three "recommendations," but there were three issues which the draft recommends that the ICC take prioritized action on, rather than specific policy changes: electric vehicle charging infrastructure, storage, and customer data privacy

Specifically, the draft report recommends that the ICC address the policy issues concerning electric vehicle charging infrastructure, calling the issue, "of critical importance to maintain Illinois’s leading position in grid modernization." The draft does not recommend any specific policy for EV charging infrastructure

The draft also recommends that the ICC prioritize policy issues to facilitate deployment of energy storage resources (ESRs). "The ICC can play a leadership role to bring about the deployment of ESRs in Illinois, be it on the bulk grid, d-grid or behind the meter, as important elements of the grid modernization and an opportunity to create new jobs. Such a deployment will bring measurable improvements in reliability, resiliency and flexibility of the grid, as well as emission reductions," the draft states. Again, no specific policies to achieve the desired deployment of storage resources were recommended.

Finally, the draft report recommended prioritizing issues related to customer data privacy. "As Illinois continues its efforts to modernize the grid, the privacy protection looms as a major issue that needs to be addressed. Illinois can seize the opportunity to contribute significantly to this issue through the enactment of rules and regulations for customer data protection. Such an effort has the potential to set the framework to effectively manage the privacy protection of customer information," the draft states. Again, no specific policies concerning AMI data privacy were recommended.

See the draft final report here

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