Massachusetts Officials Issue Order for Electric Grid Modernization

Massachusetts grid modernization
(Photo Credit: Daniel McAnulty, Flickr Creative Commons)

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued an order approving investments and upgrades to the state’s electric grid.

The order includes authorizing utility companies to make a $220 million investment in grid modernization tech over the next three years to improve efficiency and reliability as well as upgrade their distribution systems.

“The grid modernization investments authorized in today’s order will automate processes so that mechanical equipment will provide improved visibility, automated command and control, and create a self-healing grid,” the DPU said. “These improvements will help reduce the effect of power outages and improve storm restoration.”

Utilities in the state, which generally recover the costs of investments from consumers, will need to finalize plans for exactly how they will make the necessary investments in grid modernization, State House News Service’s Andy Metzger reported.

“They cannot seek to recover those costs from ratepayers until they have spent the money, according to an Energy and Environmental Affairs official,” he wrote. “The first rate adjustment proposals will arrive next February for rates that would take effect April 1, 2019.”

In a statement about the grid modernization order, DPU chairman Angela M. O’Connor noted that the many significant storm-related power outages so far this year in Massachusetts highlight the importance of having a more reliable grid. The order has been in the works for years, an administration official told Metzger.

Besides upgrades for efficiency and reliability, the DPU anticipates that the grid modernization will increase the use of renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage in the state. Next the DPU plans to do stakeholder outreach as well as investigate dynamic pricing products for all customers.

Energy storage in Massachusetts got a boost in December when the governor’s administration awarded $20 million in grants for specific energy storage projects. Last month the state awarded $4 million total in grants to accelerate energy efficiency and clean energy generation projects at municipal treatment facilities around the state.

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