Michigan PSC’s MI Power Grid yields meetings, recommendations and revised standards

Published on October 21, 2020 by Chris Galford

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A year after the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) launched its MI Power Grid initiative to guide residents and businesses through an energy industry transitioning to cleaner energy, the commission has released a status report revealing what its efforts have wrought.

The initiative, named phase 1, focused on three areas: customer engagement, integrating emerging technologies, and optimizing grid performance and investments. In terms of engagement, MPSC staff and stakeholders from seven MI Power Grid workgroups conducted 32 stakeholder meetings, leading to five reports with recommendations for Commission actions and 10 orders issued by the Commission itself.

“The MPSC Staff and hundreds of stakeholders have been meeting regularly, through the pandemic, to make progress on ensuring Michigan has a modernized, adaptable regulatory environment that makes the best of the clean energy transition,” MPSC Chair Dan Scripps said. “I want to thank all the stakeholders involved in MI Power Grid, which is laying critical groundwork for Michigan’s energy future.”

These efforts included a draft of revised interconnection standards governing how electric generation projects primarily owned by developers or customers connect to utility distribution systems, recommendations for the next round of utility distribution plans addressing long-term strategies for distribution system investments, reports on improving utility cybersecurity, and customer data protection, recommendations for improving future performance of demand response among utilities and recommendations regarding best practices for utility pilot programs.

MI Power Grid is a multi-year effort, though, so none of this could be considered finished. It is focused on maximizing the benefits of a statewide transition to smaller clean, distributed energy resources, particularly in terms of solar, battery storage, and energy efficiency. Work has already begun on phase II, which will include integration of resource, distribution, and transmission planning activities through May 2021. The commission will likely explore recommendations for incorporating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan to pursue carbon reduction goals in utility integrated resource planning by year’s end.