PUC Extends Deadline For Comments On Electric Storage Policies To Increase Reliability And Resiliency Related To Increasingly Frequent Weather-Related Threats

The Public Utility Commission published notice in the January 16 PA Bulletin extending the comment deadline on policy changes needed to increase the reliability and resiliency of electric distribution systems from weather-related threats, including thunderstorms, floods, hurricanes, derechos and ice storms until February 18.

Electric distribution companies have seen significant negative impacts to reliability due to increased severe weather, as documented in the Commission’s most recent Electric Service Reliability in PA Report.

The Commission is specifically interested in exploring the viability of utility investment in electric storage as a distribution asset utilized for the purposes of enhancing or maintaining reliability.

As electricity storage cost economics persistently improve, discussion of this subject matter is timely. Exploring this topic is warranted since utilization of batteries on the distribution grid, in appropriate circumstances, may offer an option to foster reliability that will have a less significant rate impact than other more conventional utility restoration or improvement investments.

The Commission said its hope is that information solicited in this proceeding can guide any potential future regulatory policies related to utilization of electric storage within electric utility distribution resource planning.

The Commission listed three specific questions it is seeking comments on--

-- What applications can electric storage provide as a distribution asset for utilities that would facilitate improved reliability and resiliency?

-- What are the defining characteristics of electric storage used for distribution asset planning as distinguished from generation resources? What thresholds, if any, would classify electric storage as a generation resource and therefore outside permitted distribution ratemaking and recovery?

-- Is it prudent for utilities to include electric storage in their distribution resource planning and, if so, where and under what circumstances? Further, is it appropriate for utilities to include such investments in rate base?

Click Here to read the entire original notice and for instructions on submitting comments to Docket No. M-2020-3019262.

Contact persons on this issue are Assistant Counsel Aspassia V. Staevska, 717-425-7403, astaevska@pa.gov;  Joe Cardinale, 717-787-5558, jcardinale@pa.gov in the Law Bureau; Eric Matheson, 717-346-3863, ematheson@pa.gov in the Office of the Executive Director; and Fixed Utility Financial Analyst David Edinger, 717-787-3512, dedinger@pa.gov in the Bureau of Technical Utility Services.

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[Posted: January 15, 2021]


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