Grid Modernization Race to the Top

Much of our electrical energy infrastructure is old, outdated, insecure, and far too dependent on dirty fossil fuels. Without renewed investment in new, cleaner assets and innovative management practices, our energy costs will become increasingly high and environmentally destructive.

We need to create an economic drive for utilities to invest in updating their infrastructure while motivating innovation. We can do this with a “Race to the Top”-type competition where utilities compete to enact certain reforms and the winners receive federal monies to reduce the capital costs of their investment.

Investor-owned utilities and municipal utilities & co-operatives would compete in two separate categories for a pool of $5 billion dollars each. These utilities would be given two years to enact certain reforms or hit certain targets, with points being awarded for achieving the goals based on a schedule of points. Off-schedule points would be awarded by industry experts for innovation that achieves similar goals to the prescribed methods. A points floor would be set, and anyone above that floor would receive awards from the central pool proportional to their points.

Reforms and criteria would include, but not be limited to:

    • Installation of smart meters
    • Free, easy access for account holders to interval data
    • Streamlined interconnection processes
    • Short interconnection processing turnarounds
    • Tariffs designed to encourage renewable systems of all sizes
    • Implementation of active or passive control standards that enable real-time management of distributed assets not under direct utility ownership
    • Methods of differentiating and optimizing the financial concerns of administration, transmission, production, and consumption, as separate grid-system functions
    • Net de-carbonization from the installation and retirement of various assets
    • Stakeholder education and outreach, including account holders, developers, and contractors
    • Robust IT security for metering and control systems
    • Demonstrating a continued interest, past the end date of the Race to the Top, in continuing to implement these changes
Incentives work. By putting up a reward for a smarter electricity grid, we can create incentives for utilities to modernize quickly. This will save us money and lower our carbon footprint and emissions. The total investment in new infrastructure would greatly exceed the amount seeded by the federal government, and the public spending should pay for itself in a relatively short time period. People love a good competition.

Problems to be Solved

  • Our electrical energy infrastructure is outdated and in need of modernization.
Guiding Principles:
  • Efficiency
  • Innovation
Goals
  • Incentivize electric utilities to innovate and modernize their infrastructure to be more efficient and environmentally friendly

As President, I will…

  • Institute an Energy Race to the Top to spur investment and innovation in our energy infrastructure.
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