On August 21, 2023, the National Association of State Energy Officials and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners released a report, State Microgrid Policy, Programmatic, and Regulatory Framework, that is a resource for State Energy Offices and public utility commissions as they develop policies, regulations and programs to support microgrids.
Understanding essential information surrounding microgrids is important for PUCs and State Energy Offices as they both hold important roles and responsibilities related to microgrid deployment. PUCs ensure the safety, reliability and affordability of the distribution system and are responsible for developing regulatory guidelines for microgrid developers and customers. State Energy Offices hold interest in microgrids, as they develop and inform gubernatorial and legislative energy policy actions and are responsible for allocating state and federal taxpayer dollars to beneficial investments. State Energy Offices also advance energy policies; support technological research and deployment; and support economic development, resilience and decarbonization goals through their programs and activities.
The goals of the framework are to foster productive collaboration among state entities and help them anticipate questions they may encounter as they plan and implement microgrid policies, programs, and regulations. To help achieve these goals, the report provides relevant microgrid background information for State Energy Offices and PUC consideration, regardless of their state’s microgrid landscape, through examples from peers as states across the country have implemented varying strategies to enable microgrids.
“NARUC and NASEO have numerous collaborative efforts bringing together public utility commissions and State Energy Offices,” said NARUC Executive Director Greg White. “This framework highlights the unique considerations and circumstances affecting the ways in which our diverse state members approach microgrid policies, programs and regulations.”
One major aspect of microgrids that makes it important for PUCs and State Energy Offices to have a well-rounded understanding of this technology is the large role they play in energy resilience and reliability. Microgrids’ capability to support customer and community resilience brings up regulatory and policy questions for PUCs and State Energy Offices to address, particularly with regard to cost allocation. In addition, State Energy Offices consider these facets of microgrids as they develop State Energy Plans and State Energy Security Plans for their states; and assess the intersections of hazard mitigation, decarbonization and equity on state and local levels.
“The State Microgrid Policy, Programmatic, and Regulatory Framework is a valuable resource for State Energy Offices as they develop and implement policy and programmatic opportunities and public-private partnerships that move microgrid projects forward across the country,” said NASEO President David Terry. “State Energy Directors and their staff have policy, program expertise and resources to support microgrid investments and can utilize this framework to learn from their peers and identify pathways for microgrids that align with state resilience, economic and environmental goals.”
Overall, the framework acts as a thorough resource for PUCs and State Energy Offices to reference while considering options and making decisions affecting the deployment of microgrids. The report covers the state microgrid landscape; the shared needs of PUCs and State Energy Offices, including guidance on stakeholder engagement and technical assistance opportunities; steps for developing state microgrid policies or programs for State Energy Offices; and steps for developing state microgrid regulations for PUCs.
This report was made possible by support from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity. The U.S. DOE OE provided financial support for this initiative and research that informed the development and scope of this report.