Maryland’s Public Service Commission (PSC) has undertaken a proceeding, PC 44, that may significantly change the rules for way we generate and receive electricity. We need your help to ensure all Marylanders get a fair deal from the process. In January, the Commission announced the formation of several working groups as part of the proceeding as well as a study to assess the benefits and costs of distributed solar to Maryland. The working groups will provide commissioners feedback on key components of Maryland’s electricity sector that, according to the Commission, are “ripe for action in this proceeding”. Pilot projects, experimental electricity tariffs and development of rules for these topics may be coming too. This is our opportunity to ensure Maryland’s community of solar supporters is represented.
Is there a particular working group topic that’s of interest to you? Want to get involved? Here’s one way you can help:
- Volunteer for a working group.
- Attend meetings (many will be conducted by phone).
- Report back to the MD SUN network listserv on issues the working groups discuss.
- Coordinate with other solar supporters to make sure community perspectives are included in the conversation.
Don’t worry about not having a background in the subject matter. Just listening on calls and learning as you go is a great way to get up to speed. And if you are a solar homeowner, you can offer your particular personal perspective on any proposed changes. Input from Maryland residents is welcomed and appreciated by the Commission in their regulatory proceedings. The Commission’s charge is to represent us, the people, to make sure that utility services meet our needs.
How do I sign up for a working group?
Signing up is easy, just email the working group leader (see the list below) and let them know you are a Maryland resident and that you’d like to participate in the working group. They’ll add you to the list and notify you about upcoming meetings and meeting agenda for that group.
The working groups will be broken up into the following topics:
- Rate Design (Jon Kucskar, [email protected])
This group will discuss “Time of Use” (TOU) rates and whether time varying rates that value the benefits and costs of distributed solar could both empower customers and provide appropriate market signals. Several of these working groups will consider possible pilot programs. One such pilot could be implementing TOU rates for customers with distributed solar. A pilot of TOU rates and solar may, for example, include a higher value credit for energy produced at times of the day and year when the grid needs it more and a lower rate when the grid does not need it as much.
- Electric Vehicles (Marissa Gillett, [email protected])
This group will discuss widening the use of electric vehicle (EV) specific tariffs, the use of time-varying rates, infrastructure investment by utilities, partnerships on vehicle fleet electrification, and other measures to expand and support electric vehicle use in the state.
- Competitive Markets and Customer Choice (Odogwuobi Linton, [email protected])
This group will discuss developing statewide standards for smart meter data sharing and improving the competition, transparency and customer-friendliness of retail choice.
- Interconnection Process (Jon Kucskar, [email protected])
This group will discuss improvements to solar interconnection standards and procedures, the possible mandated use of smart inverters, expanded availability of hosting capacity maps for deciding where solar and other distributed resources can be easily sited, and cost allocation and system capacity issues regarding large and mid-size solar facilities.
- Energy Storage (Andrew Johnston, [email protected])
This group will discuss possible rules to define residential energy storage, its interconnection to the grid and how it’s classified in rules, tariffs, and policies as well as appropriate criteria for deciding whether utilities should invest in energy storage and how they should be compensated.
- Distribution System Planning (Group may happen if there is sufficient funding available)
This group will discuss the components of distribution planning, what areas the Commission should focus on and whether it should authorize a study on key topics.
Value of solar study too
Several states have already conducted what are called “value of solar” studies to more accurately account for the value of a resource like rooftop solar to a utility grid. In addition to the working groups, the Maryland Commission has decided that determining this value is a key input into many areas of discussion on grid modernization. As a result, they will pay a consultant to study the benefits and costs of distributed solar in the investor-owned utility service territory areas (BGE, Pepco, Delmarva, & Potomac Edison).
The study will include a specific analysis of distributed solar’s health and environmental benefits, as well as “focus on distributed solar’s geographic and grid location (i.e. valuing the cost of lost open space, agricultural and ecological services, and the grid benefits of load-offsetting generation), and how an advance in energy storage technology or cost-effectiveness could enhance the benefits of distributed solar in Maryland”.
The results will inform decisions by the Commission and could have a significant impact on the future value of solar to solar homeowners.