State Regulators Share Perspectives on Implementing Energy Policy

Advanced Grid Institute (AGI) welcomed Commissioner David Danner and Commissioner Ann Rendahl, from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, and Technical Manager Kiera Zitelman from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) on AGI Industry Day. The panelists were invited to speak at the session, “Implementing Energy Policy Activities: State Regulators and State Government Perspectives.”  

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission regulates 5-10% of state’s economy. Their mission is to provide affordable, safe, reliable, and clean energy and to ensure benefits are distributed equitably.  

Commissioner Danner explained that there are more technological changes in the last 10 years than there were in the 100 years before that, and more technological change in 3 years than in the last 10 years.  

“In the 1960’s our job was pretty straight forward. Global warming wasn’t something we worried about,” said Danner. “Today we are going through a huge energy transformation. We have to focus on carbon reduction, managing technological advances, and knowing what they are, while our mission stays the same.”  

He explained that as technology continues to advance, regulators will need to rely more on technologists and scientists as they work on resource planning.  

“As we go forward, the work you do is increasingly important and the communication we have with you is also important. [AGI] is about sharing best practices, talking about developments and what the world is doing, so know how important you are to the work we do,” Danner said to the audience of students, professors, researchers, and industry partners.  

Commissioner Rendahl talked about new legislation and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission’s role in understanding the rules, guidelines, and creating processes to implement them. She also talked about the importance of an interconnected grid for energy trading.  

“The nature of how energy is generated is more variable. There is so much going on and so much changing. In order for each individual utility to manage all changes, they need to be more connected and rely on neighbors more,” said Rendhal.   

“As regulators we are all trying to make sure utilities can engage in this, make sure customers benefit, costs don’t increase unreasonably, and that markets are created with efficiency,” she said.  

Zitelman joined the panel conversation with a perspective from the NARUC-NASEO (National Association of Energy Officials) Microgrids State Working Group, funded by the Department of Energy. She spoke about their recent publication, “State Microgrid Policy, Programmatic, and Regulatory Framework.” 

To help encourage proactive thinking and increase stakeholder understanding, the publication focuses on the development of microgrid strategies and gives examples of microgrid programs and regulatory processes based on examples of different state efforts.  

“We want to share across states when there are programs others can learn from,” said Zitelman.  

As the nation and states move closer toward clean energy goals, collaboration and communication between researchers, technologists, industry, and stakeholders is essential for implementing energy policy.  

A recording of the session as well as shared slides are available on the AGI website. 

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