Pursuant to legislation enacted in 2023, the Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) is leading a study to determine whether a Distribution System Operator could be established in Maine to achieve cost savings for customers, improved system reliability, and accelerated achievement of the State’s climate goals.
What is a Distribution System Operator?
As defined by the legislation, a Distribution System Operator (DSO) is an entity designed to oversee integrated system planning and operate all electric grids in the State, administer an open and transparent market for distributed energy resources, and facilitate the achievement of the greenhouse gas reduction obligations and climate policies. No jurisdiction in the United States has established a DSO entity, although such entities exist in other jurisdictions, including Europe.
What is the purpose of a Distribution System Operator?
As defined by the legislation, the DSO's purpose would be to:
Oversee integrated system planning for all electric grids in the State, including coordinating energy planning efforts across state agencies;
Operate all electric grids in the State to ensure optimum operations, efficiency, equity, affordability, reliability and customer service;
Administer an open and transparent market for distributed energy resources; and
Facilitate the achievement of the greenhouse gas reduction obligations and climate policies.
Part I of the study will evaluate whether a DSO could be designed to achieve the stated purpose.
Part I of the study is anticipated to be completed before the end of 2024 and will include robust stakeholder engagement. If the GEO concludes, based on Part I of the study, that a DSO can be designed to achieve the stated objectives, the GEO and its consultants shall undertake Part II of the study to develop a design proposal and identify the scope and characteristics of the DSO. This could include responsibilities such as interfacing with ISO- New England, overseeing distribution market operations, and leading integrated distribution system planning.