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MPUC Opens Investigation on Need for Smart Grid Operator
September 9, 2010
Augusta, Maine—The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted this week to initiate an investigation to determine whether it is in the public interest to have one or more smart grid coordinators in the State. In the Smart Grid Policy Act, a law passed in spring 2010, the Legislature directed the Commission, upon petition, to open an adjudicatory proceeding to make this determination. The Smart Grid Act stated that it is the policy of the state to promote smart grid functions in order to improve overall efficiency and reliability of the electric system, better manage energy consumption, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The investigation into whether or not a Smart Grid Operator is in the public interest is appropriate in order to fulfill the Legislature’s direction on the promotion of smart grid functions and move forward on aspects of the Stipulation for the MPRP,” stated Commission Chair Jack Cashman. “Opening this investigation right now is consistent with the Commission’s commitment to transparency and fairness in addressing smart grid policy questions.”
Additionally, the Commission issued an Order in June approving the settlement agreement (“Stipulation) for Central Maine Power’s (CMP’s) Maine Power Reliability Project (MPRP)—a proposed expansion of their transmission network consisting of upgrades and new construction of transmission lines and several substations throughout Maine. In the approved Stipulation, provision was made for the mid-coast and Portland areas of the MPRP to be further evaluated for non-transmission alternatives as part of a Pilot Plan to be filed by CMP and Grid Solar (an intervenor in the MPRP case). As part of the Pilot Plan, CMP and Grid Solar agreed to include a proposal on the design, installation, ownership control, cost and cost recovery of a smart grid platform. The Pilot Plan will also recommend that Grid Solar be appointed the smart grid coordinator or operator.
Before considering any proposal for smart grid functions as part of the Pilot Plan and in order to analyze the smart grid issues as directed by the Legislature, the Commission has now opened this proceeding to address threshold issues regarding smart grid coordinators. According to the Stipulation approval, the Commission will determine the following: whether the selection of a smart grid coordinator is in the public interest; if so, what the standards for the entity will be; and who will be selected to be the smart grid coordinator. The process of analyzing and deciding these questions is to be open and allow the participation of all stakeholders, including all potential smart grid providers.
For more information, visit the Virtual Case File on the Commission’s website (www.maine.gov/mpuc ) and search for the September 8th Notice of Investigation in the case (Docket Number 2010-267).
The Maine Public Utilities Commission regulates electric, telephone, water and gas utilities to ensure that Maine citizens have access to safe and reliable utility service at rates that are just and reasonable for all ratepayers. Commission programs include Maine Enhanced 911 Service, and Dig Safe.
Contact: Evelyn deFrees, 207-287-6141 firstname.lastname@example.org
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