About Grid Modernization
Grid modernization efforts will help the electric grid benefit from new technologies and emerging market opportunities. A modernized grid will allow operators to better understand the grid’s immediate operating status, providing greater efficiencies, reliability, and lower costs. Grid modernization efforts will make it easier to integrate the growing number of distributed and intermittent resources, such as roof-top solar panels--driving down costs for using these renewable technologies and enabling more consumers to take advantage of them. A modernized grid will also allow operators to pinpoint outages more quickly and restore service.
Distribution System Planning
Oregon’s electric companies have historically planned for the maintenance and operation of safe, reliable, affordable distribution systems—the part of the electric system that takes power from high voltage power lines and delivers it to local end users. This planning and decision-making is increasingly complex, given grid modernizaion efforts, evolving technologies, markets, customer interest, and policies, including the topics listed below. As a result, the PUC is increasing its understanding of how electric utilities perform these planning processes, what investments they are making, and how they identify the best investment decisions. The PUC has opened docket UM 2005
to investigate distribution system planning and develop a planning process that allows utilities to optimize the efficiency of their distribution system and maximize the customer value.
In 2015 the Oregon legislature passed HB 2193, which required Portland General Electric (PGE) and PacifiCorp to procure by 2020 one or more energy storage systems. Energy storage is a new and rapidly improving technology that could transform our energy system. For the most part, energy must be used as it is generated. Energy storage can cost-effectively capture and store energy after it has been generated and then deliver that energy at a later time, when it is needed. Since then the utilities have proposed several pilot projects, along with methodologies for assessing the potential for storage projects in their territory. The goal of these pilots is to test how storage systems perform and to determine the value storage provides to the electrical system. View the links below to learn more about the state’s efforts on energy storage:
Smart Grid Reports
The PUC requires the three investor-owned electric utilities – PGE, PacifiCorp, and Idaho Power -- to file Smart Grid Reports every two years. These reports describe how the utilities are evolving communication within the grid to improve customer participation and satisfaction, accommodating generation and energy storage, establishing new products and services, improving power quality, improving efficiency of the system, anticipating and responding to energy disruptions, and providing resilient service. PGE, PacifiCorp, and Idaho Power have implemented advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) technology, also known as smart meters, in their Oregon service territories. View the most recent smart grid reports filed with the PUC below:
Adapting to Changing Electric Sector - SB 978
SB 978 directed the PUC to use a public process to explore how investor-owned electric utilities are regulated in a rapidly changing industry and policy environment. The PUC engaged participants in a dynamic and inclusive public process, which formulated top priorities for the PUC to directly address climate change and equity. Participants also recognized the challenges and tradeoffs the regulatory system faces in responding to accelerating technology change and customer desire for new solutions to meet their environmental, resilience, and economic goals. Informed by this process, the PUC offers a roadmap for actively adapting to the changing energy sector. View the
SB 978 Final Report