CORRECTION: Councilmember Roger Berliner is not a member of the Energy Future Coalition, as we erroneously reported. We apologize for the error.
Montgomery County Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda) today filed a formal pleading with the state's Public Service Commission to implement a utility pilot program that would include power micro-grids and adjustable rates based on how a utility company performs.
Berliner, an energy lawyer, has been exploring a pilot program called Utility 2.0. He watched the work of the Energy Future Coalition, tasked by Governor Martin O'Malley's Grid Resiliency Task Force with providing recommendations for implementing the program by last month.
The report is included in Berliner's filing with the PSC, which has total control of regulating utility companies in the state.
Berliner has frequently challenged Pepco on its reliability performance and last year held a Council Committee session on the pilot. He argued it will lead to a more efficient, sustainable and reliable electric system that could include local micro-grids powered by solar means, biogas and gas fired cogeneration.
The recommendations for the pilot also include performance-based ratemaking, which would "align the financial returns of utilities with how it performs on key metrics." The Energy Future Coalition also recommended utility-provided cost vouchers in exchange for customers allowing the utility to manage the charging of their electric vehicles.
From Berliner's statement today:
But the institutional challenges are real. As EFC observed, while the technology exists to support a revolution in utility service, our regulatory model is a vestige of century-old thinking and our utilities are inherently conservative and not innovators. It is the job of our state regulators who have 100 percent control over our utilities to ensure that we fully grasp the benefits of a transformed utility system. I urge them to accept this challenge and move Montgomery County and Maryland forward.
The PSC held a public hearing last week about Pepco's request for a rate hike to help pay for infrastructure repairs. Many said funding for those repairs should come from the company's profits, not from a proposed $60.8 million a year revenue bump that would cost the average residential customer $7.13 more each month.