Grid Planning and Modernization
The legislature has recently required that utilities undergo a new process for grid planning that begins with robust stakeholder engagement to identify priorities that the utilities must address. Public Law 2022, chapter 702 requires this process to occur every 5 years going forward. The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is leading this Stakeholder Process in Docket No. 2022-0322, “Proceeding to Identify Priorities for Grid Plan Filings.” The process will consist of a series of workshops led by an expert facilitator. Details about each workshop are provided in the docket.
Transmission and distribution utilities conduct grid planning to predict how much electric demand (“load”) there will be, whether their current assets and equipment are sufficient to meet that need, and, if not, what investments will be required. Stakeholder engagement in the grid planning process provides an opportunity to ensure that the grid will meet Maine’s needs in the coming years. This is an opportunity to address the challenges posed by climate change and aging infrastructure while creating a more resilient, modern, clean, and affordable grid where customers are empowered to make energy decisions.
The Governor’s Energy Office believes that stakeholder engagement in grid planning can lead to positive outcomes for all Maine energy consumers and encourages you to reach out to the Public Utilities Commission's facilitator, Electric Power Engineers, to be placed on the email list for the stakeholder meetings: MaineGridPlanning@epeconsulting.com
Public Law 2022, chapter 702 specifically requires:
- A stakeholder “proceeding” to begin no later than Nov 1, 2022 and to then take place every 5 years. The specifics of this ‘proceeding’, including the length, manner of engagement, and topics to be covered, are not defined in the statute but are, instead, left to the PUC to decide. However, the proceeding should include “technical conferences or stakeholder workshops” that identify stakeholder “priorities, assumptions, goals, methods and tools that will assist the covered utility in developing a grid plan” (collectively referred to as ‘priorities’).
- Within 18 months of the conclusion of the stakeholder proceeding and directive by the PUC, Versant and CMP must each “submit a filing” that addresses the stakeholder priorities, as well as:
- “…reference and incorporate relevant” elements and analysis from Efficiency Maine Trust’s triennial plan and Maine’s climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait;
- Include at least two potential planning scenarios, including a scenario of “high-penetration distributed energy resources and end-use electrification;”
- Include forecasts of projected load, baseline energy supply data and assessments, analysis of hosting capacity, analysis of “available and emerging technologies necessary to enable load management and flexibility;”
- Include “an assessment of environmental, equity and environmental justice impacts of grid plans;”
- Identify “cost-effective near-term grid investments and operations needed to achieve” the stakeholder priorities; and
- “Assess the electric system of the covered utility and its relationship to the regional grid.”
- Following utility submissions, there will be opportunity for public comment and, if the PUC deems necessary, revision.
- Additionally, the utilities “shall ensure to the greatest extent practicable that any information related to the filing is provided in a forum accessible to interested parties and all relevant data and distribution planning modeling tools are available to interested parties.”
- Lawrence Berkeley National Lab has many resources, including a power-point on state distribution system planning and webinars on New England Distribution System Planning
- Maine is part of ISO-New England’s power grid. For an overview of the difference between the distribution system and transmission system, and the roles that ISO-NE plays, watch this brief explainer, part of the ISO 101 training. You’ll be prompted to first create a free account with ISO-TEN.
- Electric Power Engineer’s recommendations for grid modernization for Versant and CMP in Docket 2021-00039
If you’re interested in getting updates or have any questions, please contact Claire.Swingle@maine.gov.