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Connecticut’s modern grid framework emphasizes energy storage, AMI and more

Marissa Paslick Gillett, chair of the CT Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA)

At a conference put on by the Connecticut Power and Energy Society (CPES) on October 30, keynote speaker Marissa Paslick Gillett, the chair of the CT Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), outlined six of the eleven pathways that are part of PURA’s Equitable Modern Grid Framework.

The framework was passed by unanimous decision earlier this month.

Officially, the Equitable Modern Grid framework is designed to achieve the following objectives:

  • support, or remove barriers to, the growth of Connecticut’s green economy
  • enable a cost-effective, economy-wide transition to a decarbonized future
  • enhance customer access to a more resilient, reliable and secure electricity commodity
  • advance the ongoing energy affordability dialogue in the state, particularly in underserved communities.

The first pathway Gillett discussed was energy affordability – explaining that the state of Connecticut has the highest electricity rates in the lower 48 states. While she’d love to see PURA assist in bringing down rates, she said in her five-year term, that’s probably unlikely.

“It seems like a lot [of time] but it’s probably not enough to get us from 48 to 40,” she said.

Gillett, who was formerly a regulator in Maryland, said the next pathway is the rollout of more advanced metering infrastructure in CT.

“In Maryland before I left, we were 80 percent AMI deployed,” she said. “I’ve seen what works and doesn’t work with AMI. She added that PURA recognizes that AMI and smart infrastructure is one of the backbones needed for a modern grid.

Energy storage is the third pathway. As the former VP of external affairs with the Energy Storage Association, Gillett said that energy storage is near and dear to her heart. “I have seen what storage can do to move the conversation forward and I think it will be central for us in Connecticut,” she said.

Zero-emission vehicles, the fourth pathway, can help stabilize the grid, she added.

Not a fan of pilot projects, Gillett said that anything PURA is planning will use technology that is already proven. “But I don’t know what I don’t know,” she said so the fifth pathway is related to innovation pilots. “The docket is about creating a safe space for testing.”

 And finally, are interconnection standards, the sixth pathway. Gillett said she used to “pretend to be an engineer” and enjoys discussing complex electricity issues such as “inadvertent exports.”

Gillett emphasized that anyone, literally anyone, can come into PURA and offer opinions on the pathways and or/suggest solutions that the organization should consider during the state’s solution days.

Once PURA has gathered input from the public, it will put out an RFP for projects, which will be followed by more public hearings.

“We are always listening.” she said.

See a tentative schedule for solution days here.

Lead image: Marissa Paslick Gillett, chair of the CT Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) speaks at the Connecticut Power and Energy Society’s Annual event. Credit: Jennifer MacNeil.