The Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE) at Vermont Law School has entered into an agreement to work with Protect Our Power on timely and critical research related to grid security and resilience issues of the nation’s electric grid.
Protect Our Power is an independent, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to build consensus as soon as possible among government, industry and other key stakeholders to strengthen the nation’s electric grid in a timely manner. Their goal is to make the overall grid more resistant against all potential physical or cyber threats, as well as improve its ability to restore power quickly in the event of an attack.
The research project that IEE will be working on for Protect Our Power will focus on identifying a pathway, or model approach, for state electric utility commissions, and the utilities they regulate, to use to facilitate timely grid upgrades, including identifying an appropriate financial structure for equitably sharing the costs of such upgrades. The project will also specifically assess opportunities for state governments to advance grid security and resilience quickly by providing a framework for model state regulatory and legislative initiatives.
“The electric grid is a sophisticated physical system largely governed by a complex state-by-state regulatory system,” said Jim Cunningham, executive director of Protect Our Power. “We are asking IEE to help us develop a streamlined, model approach that can be used in every state to properly incentivize the utility companies and assure complete recovery of costs associated with improving grid resiliency now. The framework will provide needed uniformity throughout the states and help the regulatory agencies make timely decisions on both the need and the cost recovery for those upgrades.”
The cost of making critical grid improvements nationally will be significant, Cunningham said, so bringing clarity and predictability to that process is critical in ensuring that those costs are shared equitably by the federal government, the utility companies and consumers through their electric rates.
The IEE research team will be led by Mark James, assistant professor of energy law and a senior research fellow at the IEE. James recently led an IEE team that produced a white paper on the governance and market efficiency of regional electric transmission organizations, which coordinate, control and monitor multi-state electric . That study was performed for the R Street Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.
“We’re pleased to partner with Protect Our Power to work on the critical issue of grid security,” said Mark James. “We know the grid is under attack on the cyber front every day, and a natural disaster can occur at any time, so charting a path forward for state legislators, state utility regulators, and utilities to take necessary actions will be a very positive step.”
The IEE’s initial report will be delivered to Protect Our Power by December 2018. During the second phase of the project, IEE researchers will turn their findings and recommendations into draft model state legislation for grid security and resilience improvements.
“I applaud Protect our Power for this initiative and the focus on state policy actions,” said Kevin Jones, director of the IEE. “As a former utility power market policy leader myself, I understand the need for state leadership on these critical grid infrastructure issues, and I am confident that state regulators will appreciate the results of our work.”
The Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School provides accessible resources on contemporary energy law and policy with a focus on a cleaner and more resilient grid of the future. The IEE distributes scholarly, technical, and practical publications; provides forums and conferences for professional education and issue development; and serves as a center for graduate research on energy issues, with environmental awareness. IEE research associates are selected from students in the energy and environmental programs at Vermont Law School, top-ranked in the nation for environmental law. For more information about the IEE, visit vermontlaw.edu/iee.
is an independent, not-for-profit organization seeking to build consensus among key stakeholders, decision-makers and public policy influencers to launch a coordinated, comprehensive and adequately funded effort to make the nation’s electric grid more resilient and more resistant to all external threats.