RI Officials Recommend Changes To Modernize Electrical Grid

Dec 3, 2017

Rhode Island officials recently released a report with recommendations on how to modernize the state’s electrical grid. 

Grid modernization makes the grid smarter, using technologies that help monitor in real time the energy that’s being produced by renewable resources. That process helps utility companies manage electricity demand more efficiently, which could save ratepayers money during the hottest and coldest days of the year. 

One recommendation in the report for making the grid better is to deploy what are known as advanced meters.

“These devices are essentially smartphones attached to the edge of your house, and that gives the grid operator a lot of information about when your solar panels are producing, or when your batteries are charging, or when your solar panels are producing and when your refrigerator is running," Macky McCleary, administrator at the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, said. 

Modernizing the grid also means redesigning it to accommodate more renewable energy resources. 

Carol Grant, commissioner of Rhode Island's Office of Energy Resources, said right now, the grid can effectively accommodate the amount of solar energy that’s connected, but that will change as more renewables are plugged in.

“If we keep going in the direction that we know we want to go, and people start having electric vehicles and using electricity in different ways, we don’t have a grid that can encourage that and that can support that," Grant said. 

Grant said one way to effectively accommodate more clean energy resources is to use the information collected by the advanced meters; however, she said the state may have to provide incentives to the grid operator to provide that new information to customers. 

State officials plan to continue offering recommendations and planning the future of the grid.

The report, Rhode Island Power Sector Transformation, was completed in response to a request from Governor Gina Raimondo earlier this year to modernize the grid in preparation for the changing energy landscape.