Conversation with FERC Commissioner Allison Clements kicks off day of discussions about grid enhancing technologies, the policy surrounding their integration and their role in the energy transition.
Smart Wires leaders led a day of discussions about grid enhancing technology (GET) and policies shaping the energy industry. Smart Wires CEO Peter Wells interviewed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Allison Clements at DISTRIBUTECH International 2022 (https://www.distributech.com/) on May 23 in Dallas, Texas. The conversation headlined the WATT Coalition's Grid Enhancing Technologies Summit (https://watt-transmission.org/distributech-event/), where numerous policy makers and technology experts also participated in panel discussions.
During their candid discussion about energy policy, Peter explained that Smart Wires' most successful markets are in countries that have regulatory mechanisms to ensure the delivery of a reliable, low-cost network for consumers. These approaches naturally incentivize utilizes to rapidly adopt GETs. Commissioner Clements responded by saying the U.S. may need to encourage utilities with regulation and policies, but that utilities should see the benefits of GETs and pursue the lowest cost option for their customers.
Peter explained his hypothesis for the phases the grid will go through to successfully deliver the energy transition for customers.
"We see three stages of the evolution of the grid, driven by grid enhancing technologies," he shared. "Today is mostly transactional and application focused. Services will then layer on top of applications. Finally, the grid then needs to become a seamless digital platform providing a flexible system capable of managing variability and integrating load and demand."
This same sentiment was later echoed by Michael Pesin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Advanced Grid Research and Development Division in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Electricity. In his remarks, he also explained the interconnectedness of markets, policy and technology, and the need to pursue integrated solutions.
Additional legislators, policymakers and energy industry leaders participated in the daylong event, which included discussions about GETs in the field, transmission policy in the U.S., and the real cost of renewable energy curtailment. Representatives from leading utilities shared their experiences with the integration of GETs on the grid. Renewable energy and electricity system experts also discussed the impact GETs have on energy affordability and our climate goals.
Throughout multiple panel discussions, participants agreed that power flow control technology, like SmartValve™, is an excellent tool for optimizing the current infrastructure and preparing the grid for the future - and that utilities need to adopt this technology now.
"We are going to have to adopt these technologies and adopt them quickly given everything we are trying to accomplish in the next five years around asset healthy and reliability," said Joe Lookup, Director of Asset Management with PPL Corporation.
"It's not only about how cheap we can get a solution but how fast we can get a solution… and GETs win on both counts," said Pat Wood, CEO of Hunt Energy and former FERC Chair.
There was overwhelming support across all discussions regarding the value GETs can provide - for the grid and for consumers - and calls for quicker and more widespread adoption of these valuable tools.