Sure everyone wants a more resilient electric grid. Especially after a recent natural disaster that caused long outages. But few consumers want to pay the increased rates that go along with utility-financed grid “hardening.” For example, when JCP&L proposed a 4.5 % rate increase following Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, a city councilman from Vernon, N.J., gave a typical response in public comments: “I don’t think the customers, who are supposed to be served, should be paying for what was essentially their [the utility’s] lack of management and poor planning.”
As we develop new technologies and as utilities and regulators consider new business models, it is fair to ask if there’s a better way than utility spending to improve grid resiliency. Enerdynamics’ facilitator Dan Bihn recently visited Japan, which has a long history of natural disasters and is currently undergoing implementation of retail electricity deregulation. Bihn discovered that grid-connected electric vehicles (EVs), smart homes, meaningful electric pricing driven by competitive electric retail companies, and business opportunities may be resulting in a new model for how to create and pay for grid resiliency. Based on his findings, following is a SlideShare presentation by Bihn titled Japan’s Disaster Resilient Smart Energy Economy.