The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has approved a plan to modernize the state’s electric grid vision for the next several years, including a framework for achieving an “Equitable Modern Grid” to benefit all Connecticut ratepayers. It announced that the next steps on eleven near-term pathways identified by the decision begin in October of this year with all investigations targeted to realize four main objectives:
- support, or remove barriers to the growth of Connecticut’s green economy;
- enable a cost-effective, economy-wide transition to a decarbonized future;
- enhance customer access to a more resilient, reliable and secure electricity commodity; and
- advance the ongoing energy affordability dialogue in the state, particularly in under-served communities.
In issuing the plan, that Authority pointed out that the electric sector faces new challenges: (1) Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of weather events and (2) the increased deployment of distributed energy resources, including customer-sited solar photovoltaic systems, electric storage, and electric vehicles challenge the typical electric utility business model and the traditional operation of the electric distribution system.
The Authority said that while it is “acutely aware” that Connecticut has the highest retail electric rates in the continental United States, retail electric rates alone are not the sole indicator of average energy affordability. It explained that while electric rates provide part of the equation, perhaps a more telling indicator of relative energy affordability, especially within the New England region given the relatively low average customer expenditures on electricity and energy bills. The Authority pointed out that when using energy expenditures per capita as the metric, Connecticut is 24th in average affordability, in large part due to the success of the State’s energy efficiency programs. Re Distribution System Planning of the Electric Distribution Companies, Docket No. 17-12-03, Oct. 2, 2019 (CT.P.U.R.Auth.).