A legislative hearing will be held at 10 a.m., Monday, June 19 on a closely watched Pennsylvania microgrid bill before the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Sponsored by Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware), who also serves as committee chair, HB 1412 allows utilities to recover costs within customer rates for microgrids and energy storage projects.
The bill tries to resolve a central problem stymying utility development of microgrids. Pennsylvania is just one of several states where utilities have run into trouble installing microgrids because of issues surrounding who should pay — all ratepayers or those who directly take energy from the microgrid.
Proponents of the ratepayer model say that microgrids provide broad benefits to the grid and public beyond supplying energy to the buildings they serve directly. Those against it argue that utilities will undercut the competitive market if they are allowed to build and own microgrids with ratepayer funds.
Microgrid insiders say that the bill could become a model for other states, if it passes the Pennsylvania General Assembly and becomes law.
So not surprisingly, the hearing has attracted the attention of national energy advocacy groups, including the Edison Electric Institute and Retail Energy Supply Association. Both are scheduled to provide input at Monday’s hearing.
Read Microgrid Knowledge’s in-depth coverage of the Pennsylvania microgrid bill: Pennsylvania Tackles a Big One: Who Pays for Utility Microgrids?
Others scheduled to speak include representatives from PECO Energy, NetZero Microgrid Solutions, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.
The hearing will focus on the use of microgrids to provide reliable energy, especially during disasters.
The Pennsylvania microgrid bill would allow utilities to recover microgrid costs in rates if they prove to be “reasonable, prudently incurred expenses to operate and maintain the facility.”
The bill says that microgrids would prove to be in the public interest if they:
- Facilitate the diversity of electric supply options, including the addition of distributed energy
- Enhance the grid’s electric distribution, resiliency and operational flexibility
The hearing will be held in Room 205, Ryan Office Building, Capitol Complex, Harrisburg. Live webstreaming also will be available at SteveBarrar.com, barring any technical difficulties.
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