In a recent editorial in The Wisconsin State Journal, the pair of ratepayer advocates is asking the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to make utilities accountable for the financial and community costs of building more transmission, and for using the term “reliability” so loosely that ratepayers are led to think these lines are about “keeping the lights on.”
Danielson and Severson contend that energy efficiency contributes to grid reliability by reducing stress on the grid. Efficiency is also the best way to save ratepayers’ money and reduce our carbon footprint. It has no negative impacts, other than reducing utility profits.
Utilities and state regulators need to acknowledge how cost-effective it is to shave peak-demand during those very limited hours in the summer or winter when demand spikes — and that this, too, increases grid reliability. Paying customers to turn off their air conditioners for 15 minutes, or an industrial customer to use back-up diesel, makes far more economic sense than spending billions to add wires to bring in rarely needed extra power. Energy spikes can also be addressed by adding local renewables, which have the added benefit of creating additional local, ongoing jobs.
There are many ways to address need without building new transmmission, and Danielson and Severson are asking for equal consideration of them. Consumers are demanding that ratepayer and community interests — not utility and Wall Street profits — drive our future transmission planning decisions.