JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Renew Missouri is applauding the Missouri Public Service Commission for seeking input on the concept of distributive energy resources (DER).
Back in September, the PSC issued an order asking parties to answer questions about the concept, which uses technology and tools to break down the larger electric grid into smaller grids.
“For the PSC to seek information on this topic shows an incredible sense of forward thinking,” Renew Missouri Executive Director James Owen said in a statement. “This shows they are really serious about looking into the future and developing rules and regulations that will help mold the new realities of energy policy. It is Renew Missouri’s hope that the Missouri Legislature and the rest of our Executive Branch are watching this as well.”
The use of DERs hinges on the idea that decentralizing infrastructure will make the utility companies more involved and responsive to their customers, while also making the grid less susceptible to natural disasters and cyber attacks. In short, by modernizing the grid and looking at it as several pieces forming a whole instead of one unit, meaning that, in theory, it would be easier to pinpoint issues and resolve them before they grow and become unmanageable. Renew Missouri’s comments say “self-healing networks and segment-able grid architecture can reduce the consequences of outages.”
Some of the things Renew Missouri suggested in the comments filed with the PSC in their Emerging Docket consisted of advanced metering and the implementation of renewable energy sources.
“Whether the electric companies need to change the way rates are increased isn’t our focus,” Owen said. “But, rather, our focus is to challenge lawmakers and utility companies that if grid modernization is going to be pursued, that we are simply not pouring money into the old system of making and selling dirty energy. Right now, coal and nuclear are becoming less economic than wind and solar. In addition, it is much easier to employ wind and solar to power a town or a neighborhood instead of using the old grid that is more vulnerable to storms and other natural disasters.”
In essence, Renew Missouri’s comments suggest that the conversation about modernizing the grid doesn’t have to involve talks about changing the way rates are handled, an issue that has proven to be more easily said than done in the Missouri Legislature.
“These are not radical ideas,” Owen said. “But rather practical and pragmatic opportunities to make utilities run better and be more responsive to their customers while giving them more choices.”
You can read Renew Missouri’s full comments to the PSC here.
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.