Grid reform

power lines

Let’s start with the problem

America’s electric grid was designed in the 19th century to bring electricity to population centers from remote power plants. To be efficient, this system gave utilities monopoly control over a local market. This limited consumer choice and participation.

State regulatory bodies were established to protect customer interests, but over time many have become “captured” by the industry they were charged to regulate. The revolving door between industry and regulators is well documented.

As the grid developed and expanded across the country in the 20th century, centralization was essential to bringing down the cost of service. Even today, most of the electricity we use is generated remotely and brought to population centers via high-voltage transmission lines. From there, it’s distributed to customers.

But this centralization limits choice and participation by us, the consumers.


Join us to reform the grid

Let’s fight for energy freedom and build an energy system that works for everyone!


graphic comparing centralized power with clean, local power
Source: Institute for Local Self Reliance

The good news: things are changing

woman holding a sign saying we went solar in front of a man's face
Newer technologies and systems are changing our electrical grids and raising questions about the rules that manage them. From distributed solar energy to wind energy, smart meters, demand management, and electrical storage.

Efforts are underway in many states to reform the way electricity is generated, distributed, and used. Diverse stakeholders, including utilities, regulators, and renewable energy advocates, are participating in regulatory proceedings organized by their state’s public utilities commission.

Many organizations are working to ensure that these proceedings include ample public participation, and lead to new energy systems founded on energy efficiency, conservation, climate resilience, and community-driven renewable energy.

In some cases, the proceedings are broad examinations of the rules of the grid, such as in New York and Maryland. In other cases, pieces of the puzzle are being looked at, like integrated resource planning in California or specific aspects of rate design in many different states.

Whether comprehensive or piecemeal, it’s all part of grid reform.

At Solar United Neighbors, we believe that solar producers need to be front and center in the design and implementation of the grid of the future!

Grid reform means we the people have more control

While a centralized system worked well for a while, it no longer makes technical, political, or economic sense.

The growth of stronger, cheaper distributed energy technologies (solar, wind, energy storage, smart meters, and demand management) is creating huge new opportunities to rethink our energy system.

We’re beginning to see significant changes to the grid, energy markets, and the rules that govern them.

The 20th century electricity system brought power to the masses. The 21st century system will allow the masses to make power smarter and to share in the system as investors, owners, and managers of their usage and production.

Together, these new technologies, markets, and rules can enable a more democratic electricity grid.

This new grid has the potential to be much more efficient, clean, transparent, and inclusive. Perhaps most exciting, it can allow consumers to be active participants, producers, and managers of local electricity.

Resources

Our work to reform the electric grid

Improvements in decentralized energy technology are driving big changes to the electric grid. Many states across the country are undertaking efforts to reform their energy systems, markets, and rules.

Learn more

We’ve compiled additional information about grid reform in some states. Are you looking for information that isn’t covered here? Contact us.

  • D.C.
    D.C.
  • Maryland
    Maryland