Electricity poles with power lines

GridWise: Championing Positive Change

March 5, 2019
Resources like Grid Modernization Index create a common understanding of the transformations taking place across the industry.

The U.S.-based non-profit GridWise Alliance recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary. GridWise champions the concepts, policies and investments needed to transform the electricity grid. To coincide with this 15-year anniversary, GridWise publicly released its “2018 Grid Modernization Index” (GMI-2018), a resource for the electricity industry and its many stakeholders. GMI-2018 is the fifth update of the GMI that GridWise has published and it has become a vital tool to stimulate collective thinking and encourage further prudent and positive change.

GMI-2018 provides executives with an overview of the changes taking place across the United States. It does so by evaluating progress in each state. Using data inputs from key industry stakeholders and publicly available information, GMI benchmarks each state on a wide range of factors. The list includes those factors that influence grid modernization policies, investments and accomplishments. GMI is less focused on comparing one of the 50 US states with any of the other 49 states. Rather, GMI is focused on comparing each state with what its fullest potential might be. This is expressed in coordinated activities that span across legislation, state policy, customer engagement efforts and technology deployment.

I am truly amazed at the changes taking place across the industry. Concepts which were discussed as long-term goals way back during GridWise’s inception in 2003 are now a reality in many parts of the United States. Customers have access to data and tools that allow them to manage their energy use and cost while supporting more effective grid operations. 

Power is typically restored to customers much more quickly after an outage occurs, thanks to faster and more accurate data along with equipment that automatically responds to these interruptions. Customers are increasingly choosing to install their own energy systems and connect them to the grid and grid operators are modifying their own systems to accommodate these distributed resources, creating a more flexible and resilient grid. Increasingly, grid modernization is less about specific devices or equipment and more about how the pieces fit together to create a system capable of transforming the traditional grid and the way customers interact with it.

Today, most states and most utilities are actively exploring options for modernizing their electric grid. Even states that score low in our index are beginning to explore how to modernize their grids. It’s no longer an option, but a necessity. However, we also appreciate, more and more, the difficulty of changes taking place, as well as the unique opportunities and challenges being faced by each state.

Because of this, GridWise’s mission and role in the electricity ecosystem is now more pertinent than ever. Through resources like GMI, GridWise helps to create a common understanding of the numerous and transformational operations-focused and policy-related changes taking place across the electricity industry. This understanding ensures that emerging policies are aligned with industry best practices — with the aim being to facilitate effective implementation.

About the Author

Gordon Feller | Europe Insights Editor

Gordon Feller has spent the past 40 years working to create a sustainable energy future. Among his many roles, he served as an Obama appointee on a select U.S. Federal Commission, established by the U.S. Congress to focus on recommending actions to address the future of utilities, the grid, EVs and storage.

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