March 29, 2016 - During the 2015 Washington State Solar Summit presented by Solar Washington a panel of stakeholders discussed the future of net metering, third party ownership, and rate design. At the end of the Summit an impromptu meeting initiated by Dave Warren, Energy Services Director of the Washington Public Utilities Association (WPUDA) along with various stakeholders, was created for the purpose of staying on top of these issues.
This meeting has led to a formal work group which has met over the past several months following the Solar Summit. In an effort to further its mission as an educational resource for homeowners and industry personnel alike (as well as participate in work groups as a part of the Northwest Solar Communities project) Solar Washington board members Dave Watterson and Dean Van Vleet have joined in subsequent meetings and discussions with this group.
This first meeting was held on October 21, 2015 at the WPUDA headquarters and attended by over 30 people representing key individuals from utilities, energy policy officials, solar installers, equipment manufacturers, and environmental advocacy groups. During this meeting goals were laid out to convene a forum outside the legislative or regulatory process for educating and informing policymakers on the distribution system, identifying emerging innovation/technologies, and studying customer choice and potential participation in operation of the distribution system. The costs, benefits and value to all stakeholders by participating in this group has been considered a worthwhile time investment.
Due to the focus of this workgroup, the group chose the name Distribution System Collaborative (DiSCo).
On December 1, 2015 the second meeting took place with presentations from Ken Nichols of EQL Energy and principal author of the report for the Western Interstate Energy Board entitled "Distribution Utility of the Future." Arne Olsen, Partner at Energy and Environmental Economics (E3), presented on "Rate Design, Distributed Energy Resources and Distribution Planning." Paul Garrett, Manager of Distributed Energy Resources at BPA presented on WPUDA's Demand Response Program. Roundtable discussions took place after the presentations.
The third meeting took place January 6, 2016 at WPUDA with presentations from Jeremy Smithson representing Solar Installers of Washington with the topic "An Inside Look at a Net Zero Home and Its Implications". Jim Lazar, of the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) presented on “Smart Rate Design”
To date, the participation and dialogues at the Distribution System Collaborative have been very positive with the intention of finding ways for utilities and the solar energy community to find common ground on net metering, third party ownership, and rate design. Meetings have been temporarily put on hold during the legislative session, but future meetings are slated to be held monthly with the next one slated for April 12, 2016. Currently there are 30+ participants in regular attendance and an email/online presence totaling 50+ attendees.
If you have questions or comments concerning the Distribution System Collaborative (DiSCo, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with "Distribution System Collaborative" in the subject line. We will provide more information about this group as it become available. Thank you!