PURA Establishes the Innovative Energy Solutions Program
Program designed to spur development of new clean energy technologies, grow Connecticut’s green economy through a “regulatory sandbox” paradigm
(New Britain, CT) – Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) today established the Innovative Energy Solutions (IES) Program as part of its Equitable Modern Grid initiative to encourage development of novel programs, technologies, products and services. The program will accelerate innovation across the electric grid by creating a supportive ecosystem between private companies, the state’s electric utilities, and other key stakeholders in an effort to provide equitable benefits for all customers and to advance the state’s decarbonization goals.
Today’s final decision in Docket No. 17-12-03RE05 outlines the IES Program design, structure and governance, with a launch date of January 2023.
The decision details how the program will streamline and reduce barriers for the deployment of new technologies and encourage collaborative efforts between product innovators and the electric utilities, Eversource Energy (Eversource) and United Illuminating (UI), to optimize potential rewards and opportunities that advance the industry’s equitable modernization.
Key design elements of the IES Program include: four program phases; various supportive services and pathways for innovators to participate; oversight and governance provisions; and initial eligibility criteria and metrics. A complete list is available within the IES Program Design Document appended to today’s decision.
“With today’s announcement, we launch a regulatory sandbox premised on the need to re-imagine pilot projects and break up the inertia of electric utility service in Connecticut,” said PURA Chairman Marissa P. Gillett. “The dual priorities of modernizing our electric grid while balancing energy affordability requires that we leverage the innovation of the private market by creating a space for companies to develop and commercialize cost-effective, scalable solutions to our state’s electric infrastructure needs.”
The IES Program includes important measures to ensure transparency into how the results will be evaluated. These measures will include opportunities for stakeholder review and engagement. All efforts to maintain transparency will also balance the importance of maintaining confidentiality for innovators.
While PURA will retain ultimate decision-making authority over the program, its oversight will include participation from a neutral third-party program administrator to oversee the progression of the program and an Innovation Advisory Council (IAC) comprised of a diverse and representative set of stakeholders.
The nine-member council will include representatives from key categories of stakeholders, including the Connecticut Green Bank, Connecticut Innovations, the Office of Consumer Counsel, Eversource and UI, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and non-government and/or equity- or community-focused organization representatives. The Authority will also consider representatives from academia familiar with technology innovation, energy policy, and others from the for-profit venture capital community.
Looking ahead, a request for concept proposal will be issued though the Innovation Solicitation on or around Jan. 2, 2023. Innovators interested in collaborating with Eversource and UI should reach out directly to the companies prior to that date.
The IES Program design, developed in partnership with clean energy consultancy Strategen, is based on industry best practices and input received during a multi-year stakeholder process, which included a “Solutions Day” technical meeting and numerous stakeholder workshops.
The Authority initiated this proceeding in October 2019 as part of its approved plan to equitably modernize the electric grid. There are 11 near-term topics under review in the docket such as energy affordability, advanced metering infrastructure, electric storage, zero emissions vehicles, innovation pilots, and interconnection standards.
Visit PURA’s Grid Modernization webpage for more information on the progress made in each proceeding.
For Immediate Release: March 30, 2022
Contact: Taren O’Connor