In September, 2016, the Maryland Public Service Commission issued a Notice of Public Conference (Notice), initiating a “targeted” review of Maryland’s electric distribution systems to ensure that they are customer-centered, affordable, reliable and environmentally sustainable. The proceeding builds on recent technical conferences involving barriers to the development of distributed energy resources and electric vehicles, and also piggy-backs on a condition in the May 2015 approval of the merger of Exelon and Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI), which required PHI to file a plan for transforming its distribution system and fund up to $500,000 to retain a consultant to the Commission on the matter.
In the Notice, the Commission asked stakeholders to file comments on various topics, including:
- Enhancing rate design options, particularly for electric vehicles;
- Maximizing Advanced Metering Infrastructure (smart meters) benefits;
- Valuing energy storage properly;
- Streamlining the interconnection process for distributed energy resources;
- Evaluating distribution system planning;
- Protecting limited-income Marylanders;
- Assessing PHI’s recent microgrid report; and
- Suggestions for the timeline and format of the public conference.
The Commission envisions this process to take up to 18 months and could lead to more proceedings down the road on specific issues. Commission Chairman Kevin Hughes commented that, “Some of our goals with this public conference include exploring issues that will maximize benefits and choice to Maryland electric customers . . .”
By late October, more than 50 stakeholders had filed comments, including our clients, IGS Energy and Just Energy, and the Commission set a hearing for December 8-9, 2016. We will continue to monitor and blog about this proceeding so check back right here. Meanwhile, if you have questions about these proceedings or issues of retail electric competition in Maryland or the mid-Atlantic, call any of our utility regulation lawyers..