Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ohio electric experts brainstorm a more modern power grid

By Mary Kuhlman
Ohio News Connection 

The role of technology in the future of Ohio's energy grid is the topic of a meeting of the minds in Columbus.

A series of three-day hearings on Phase Two of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's PowerForward initiative wraps up Thursday. PUCO spokesman Matt Schilling explained they have been hearing from industry experts, utilities, and other stakeholders about the latest technology to enhance the way Ohioans use electricity.

"The electric grid today actually looks very, very similar to how it did 100 years ago, which is a bit strange because every other industry is evolving," Schilling said. "And how consumers interact with their service companies is evolving; just look at how the Internet and technology has progressed."

Smart meters, automation and two-way communication are among the technologies being discussed this week. And Schilling said these could give consumers and businesses greater control over their energy use and lead to savings.

"When you have these smart meters, is it possible that you can implement some sort of time-of-use rates, where you're able to take advantage of cheaper power at certain times of the day? These are all questions the PUCO is looking to answer through PowerForward," he said.

Schilling added that PowerForward is geared toward implementing a more advanced power grid, which would allow for other innovations.

"Solar panels on roofs of people's homes, battery storage and other things," he said. "When you have a grid that's able to communicate and be more flexible, it could very well facilitate the adoption of those technologies. "

Phase One hearings, held this spring, helped paint a picture of what the future of the energy grid could look like. Schilling said this fall, Phase Three will focus on how power regulations also could be updated.


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