Input from the energy stakeholder community on the selection of an outside expert facilitator who will lead a collaborative process called, “NextGrid” – as well as on the topics to be considered in that process – is due by April 30, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) said on March 22.
According to a recent ICC resolution, through NextGrid, the industry and other stakeholders can develop a shared base of information, as well as work to build consensus on critical issues facing the electric utility industry now and as it continues to rapidly transform.
The resolution further noted that NextGrid will be managed by the ICC, with the assistance of the facilitator, who will engage electric utilities, communities, and other stakeholders, such as industry, academia, and ratepayer and environmental advocates, in a process of education and discourse concerning such topics as:
- Consumers, communities, and economic development
- Grid design, digital networks and markets
- Regulation and encouraging innovation
- Climate change and the environment
NextGrid will optimize the value of, and the state’s significant investment in, the smart grid and further the ICC’s mandate of ensuring adequate, efficient, reliable, environmentally safe, and least-cost public utility services at prices that accurately reflect the long-term cost of such services, and which are equitable to all consumers, according to the resolution.
The ICC said in its March 22 statement that NextGrid is an approximately 18-month consumer-focused and collaborative study that will identify and explore future technological advancements, as well as utility and regulatory models; inform policymakers on the issues and challenges associated with a quickly evolving energy landscape; and provide recommendations to the ICC and the Illinois General Assembly on a range of tangible actions and policies available to best benefit customers and communities throughout the state.
The study will be presented to the ICC at a formal policy session early this summer, the ICC said, adding that interim and final reports are expected in early and late 2018, respectively.
The ICC said that its study fulfills a recommendation of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Transition Committee and complements the December 2016 passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act, which, among other things, creates policy support for zero carbon emission baseload generation, as well as the expansion of energy efficiency programs, net metering, solar and wind energy.