By Jesse Berst
The Energy Collective just posted an interesting discussion of the Obama Administration's proposal to create a "contest" to spur grid innovation. As you will read, the Administration wants to use the same techniques as the Race to the Top program established to encourage educational reform.
Here's the brief explanation taken from the President's energy budget:
Challenges States to Cut Energy Waste and Support Energy Efficiency and Modernize the Grid
Modeled after a successful Administration approach in education reform designed to promote forward-leaning policies at the State level, the Budget includes $200 million in one-time funding for Race to the Top performance based awards to support State governments that implement effective policies to cut energy waste and modernize the grid. Key opportunities for States include: modernizing utility regulations to encourage cost-effective investments in efficiency, including combined heat and power and demand response resources, and in clean distributed generation; enhancing customer access to data; investments that improve the reliability, security and resilience of the grid; and enhancing the sharing of information regarding grid conditions.
I come down on the side of the Energy Collective authors, who note that the program doesn't supply enough money. And that the incentives are not aligned with the right actors.
In education, you can easily find the people responsible and wave carrots in front of them. When it comes to the power grid, we have a confusing patchwork of players, each with enough of a stake to stall progress but not enough of a stake to make decisions on its own.
I'm all for contests and competitions, but I can't see this one working. Read the Energy Collective's take and use the Comment form to let us know what you think.
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Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.