I’m pleased to announce that the Solar Electric Power Association has selected a paper authored by James Tong of Clean Power Finance, Jenny Hu and myself as one of three concepts that will focus discussion at SEPA’s 51st State Summit on Monday, April 27 in San Diego. Titled “The 51st State: Market Structures for a Smarter, More Efficient Grid,” the paper was selected from a dozen submitted by individuals and organizations from across the country.

You can view our paper concept at this SEPA link (PDF). A screenshot of the abstract of our paper is available at the end of this post.

As Gavin Bade of Utility Dive described in a review of our paper concept last week, James, Jenny and myself are calling for an Independent Distribution System Operator (IDSO) model under which the grid  would operate like a network “not unlike the Internet, stock market, or our capitalistic economy,” with millions of actors each day making value-based energy decisions on a “plug-and-play” grid with multi-directional electricity flows.

Power generation and retail services would be deregulated and competitively sourced. Utilities would relinquish day-to-day control of grid operations to the IDSO, which, along with the utility, would be under the jurisdiction of state regulators. The IDSO would be responsible for maintaining safety and reliability, providing open access to the grid, promoting market mechanisms and overseeing the optimal deployment of distributed energy resources (DERs).

Utilities would still be governed by traditional cost-of-service regulation, and would have to go to regulators as they do today to propose grid upgrades. But if they wanted to own generation or DERs, they would have to do it through unregulated subsidiaries, and not the regulated utilities themselves.

The Innovation Review Panel for the 51st State includes Ron Binz, Former Chair, Colorado Public Utilities Commission; Nancy Pfund, founder, DBL Investors; Jim Rogers, former CEO and Chairman, Duke Energy; Sue Tierney, Analysis Group and former Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, and Jigar Shah, founder, SunEdison and former CEO, Carbon War Room.

SEPA launched the 51st State last year as a broad challenge to re-imagine a 21st-century energy system from the ground up, as if for a hypothetical 51st state that has no rules, regulations or market structures in place.  What the 51st state will require is an energy system that is reliable, affordable, meets the needs of all stakeholders and supports a robust market for solar and other distributed energy resources.

Paper Abstract