> FOCUS BY CLAIRE SWEDBERG
STATE BY STATE, U.S. communities, utilities and businesses are testing, planning and
building systems aimed at modernizing the nation’s grid. In the past two years, the process has
accelerated. Technological improvements, not government incentives, are fueling much of that
growth, and that means the process is likely to continue.
Based on metrics of state support, customer engagement
and actual grid operations, California is first in grid intelligence
maturity, while Illinois, Texas, Maryland and Delaware round
out the top five. The Grid Wise Alliance measured these results
in its annual Grid Modernization Index.
Since 2003, the Grid Wise Alliance—a Washington, D.C.-based forum of power and information technology industry
members—has been watching grid-intelligence trends.
“We’ve been at this 15 years, and we’ve seen lots of changes.
But the thing to note is that the pace of change is accelerating,”
said Steven Hauser, Grid Wise Alliance CEO.
That acceleration has surprised some researchers.
“Grid modernization is often discussed as this great goal for
the future, but many major efforts to modernize the electric grid
are already underway,” said Autumn Proudlove, manager of policy research at the NC Clean Energy Technology Center at North
Carolina State University’s (NCSU) College of Engineering.
NCSU conducts reports tracking grid-modernization efforts
across all 50 states.
"[In the past two years,] I believe more states are particularly initiating grid-modernization or energy-storage studies
and investigations," Proudlove said.
The battery is one enabler, and in the case of this energy-storage technology, incentives are still playing a significant role.
Energy-storage incentives are emerging in states such as Maryland, which adopted an energy-storage tax credit.
However, the cost of energy storage is coming down as well.
In fact, NCSU has covered incentives policies for renewables
and efficiency for two decades, but Proudlove said the program
may include state storage policies and incentives to its future
The value in energy storage is its ability to store power from
intermittent energy sources—such as solar panels—and use that
energy when it is most needed.