For the last few years, experts have been predicting that the energy industry will change more in the next decade than the last 100 years. That ten year period of change has started and the transformation of the energy industry is underway. Technology is changing everything, from how our customers understand their electric consumption, to how we detect outages, to the increasing amounts of renewable energy being integrated. So how can we measure this transformation and identify best practices that lead the grid forward and promote collaboration on this important topic?
That is where the GridWise Alliance's new Grid Modernization Index (GMI) is playing a vital role. The GridWise index is the first of its kind to look specifically at progress of states in electric grid modernization, which is a key focus for maintaining economic prosperity and security for the nation. We believe that identifying successful programs will bolster cooperation between the states, enabling grid modernization advances to be duplicated in other states. This provides a blueprint for making the nation's electric grid more reliable, secure and sustainable for the benefit of all.
In 2013, GMI looked at 40 states plus the District of Columbia and measured their progress in grid modernization based on several key criteria; including installing new grid technologies that promote reliability, safety, and efficiency, creating a proactive regulatory climate for grid modernization, and enabling our customers to get involved with the energy market. California and Texas came out on top, followed by Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania to round out the top five.
Individual states of course make their own decisions about what aspects of grid modernization to move forward with and at what pace. The ranking is not intended to be a judgment, but rather an objective assessment of the amount of grid modernization in each state. The states that scored well in the rankings have several common features, including:
- Independent System Operators (ISO) or an equivalent to provide centralized management of electric grids
- Renewable energy portfolio standards to encourage solar and wind energy development
- Broad installation of smart meters that enable more choices, convenience and control of energy use for customers
- Deployment of sensors and other analytical devices to improve the overall reliability of the grid and speed up the detection and restoration of power outages
In California, many of these keys to grid modernization success are due to the proactive policies and initiatives of the California Public Utilities Commission, San Diego Gas & Electric, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison, which have launched innovative smart grid programs that are transforming local electric grids. These initiatives have led to the installation of cutting-edge technologies that increase reliability, efficiency and safety; bring in more renewable energy and electric vehicles; and enhance energy efficiency efforts that benefit customers and the environment alike.
The GMI was reviewed by GridWise Alliance members, the Smart Grid Policy Center, and the GMI Advisory Board, which consists of energy policy experts from around the country. The data was normalized by gathering GWA members in a face-to-face meeting and walking through the results of each state, thereby fine-tuning the questions and answers and ensuring the most accurate assessment.
The survey criteria give added weight based on states or energy providers developing plans, implementing pilots and large scale programs, and most importantly, demonstrating value to customers and the grid.
Beyond the actual scoring, GMI accumulated details about grid modernization efforts around the country in one central location, thus promoting sharing and cooperation. These best practices and related data can now be used by energy industry experts in all the states to accelerate the adoption of new energy-related technologies. The GridWise Alliance is planning to update the rankings every year going forward.
As mentioned previously, the data clearly indicates that the transformation of the energy industry is well underway. By emphasizing collaboration between the states and sharing our insights, we can ensure that modernization of the electric grid is managed effectively across the country. The GMI provides us with a key milestone on the road to this more advanced grid and demonstrates the many benefits of advancing together on this journey to a cleaner, more reliable energy future.