SEPA Sets Vision for Utility-Solar Industry Collaboration
At Solar Power International (SPI) in Las Vegas, with a focus on collaboration and innovation, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is releasing a new report aimed at providing utilities and distributed technology organizations with plans for working together on new energy market structures.
â€œBlueprints for Energy Market Reform: Building a Structure for Collaborative Stakeholder Engagementâ€ represents a synthesis of the insights and ideas generated through SEPAâ€™s 51st State Initiative, which the educational nonprofit launched at SPI in 2014. The initiativeâ€™s goal, then and now, was to transcend contentious debates over net metering and rate reform by fostering new visions and roadmaps for market transition -- and providing a platform for cross-industry collaboration and communication.
â€œWith the roles of utilities, customers, and technology providers changing faster than ever before, it became clear to us that industry stakeholders need a new set of concepts and tools,â€ said Tanuj Deora, SEPAâ€™s Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. â€œWhat SEPA brings to the table is not only the insights and ideas generated by the hundreds of industry thought leaders who participated in the 51st State, but our own practical experience working with utilities on stakeholder engagement efforts.â€
The concepts and tools detailed in the report include: Four doctrines that can serve as a foundation for market reform conversations between utilities, solar and other technology providers, policy makers, customer groups, and other market participants. In brief, the doctrines are: promote efficiencies; clearly define roles; identify principles of ratemaking; and, foster customer choice.
Roadmapping, which is a formal process for combining the conceptual common ground embodied in the four doctrines with a functional, feasible schedule. Key components of roadmapping include assembling a working group with a cross-section of energy market stakeholders, identifying areas of agreement and â€œleast-regretsâ€ strategies for change, and developing long-term visions and a shorter-term action plan for market transition.
FIAT -- which stands for flexibility, incrementality, affordability and transparency. The FIAT concepts are part of the reportâ€™s practical guidelines for keeping stakeholder conversations focused and grounded in reality. Any solution considered should be able to satisfy each FIAT criteria; for example, ensuring future market structures are flexible enough to account for fast-changing technologies.
â€œBy leveraging the ideas SEPA and the 51st State Initiative have developed, our hope is that any jurisdiction can take these blueprints and put them into action,â€ said Julia Hamm, SEPAâ€™s President and CEO. â€œOne of the key messages coming out of SPI this year is that energy market transition is happening now, and all of us -- utilities, solar organizations and policy makers -- must stay focused on positive solutions that benefit customers and the grid.â€