Everyone is talking about the electricity grid and how it must be modernized to accommodate new technologies, distributed generation,and provide more resilient, reliable service, all while keeping electricity prices low. Over the next 20 years, big decisions must be made in Maine about where and when to invest in upgrading the distribution and transmission system in the State while considering whether it would be cheaper to develop "non-wires alternatives" (NWA) to satisfy the electricity need, including such alternatives as energy storage, demand response, efficiency or distributed generation.
Into the middle of this conversation comes a new state law, unique in the U.S., establishing an innovative new approach that will shape the path of grid modernization in Maine. In 2019, the Maine Legislature established a NWA Coordinator, housed at the Office of the Public Advocate, and required Maine’s electric utilities to present plans each year laying out the needs and schedules for future grid investments. Working with the Efficiency Maine Trust and the utilities, the NWA Coordinator will compare the economic costs and benefits of traditional utility solutions, like building new electricity lines or adding more substations, with NWAs. The NWA Coordinator will work with all parties and the Maine Public Utilities Commission to ensure that the most cost-effective resources are developed while meeting the necessary requirements to maintain grid reliability and adequate electricity service.
What will this NWA Coordinator position and process mean for Maine’s traditional energy markets and distributed energy resources (DER)? How will it benefit industry and what challenges will the new program face? What can we learn from the experience of other states? Our panel of experts, from the utility, renewable energy and energy efficiency industries will examine the rollout of this new policy and discuss the potential opportunities it creates in the energy industry in Maine.
Moderator: Michael Stoddard, Efficiency Maine Trust
Introductory Remarks: Barry Hobbins, State of Maine Public Advocate
Panel in Formation
NWA Coordinator: Michele Tihami, DNV GL
Utilities: Eric Stinneford, CMP