By Jesse Berst
Quick Take: Far too many U.S. states make it difficult and dangerous for utilities to modernize the grid. They refuse to allow cost recovery until after the project has been completed and "passes inspection." That puts all the risk on utilities, since there is every possibility that the utilities commission will deny all or part of the recovery, leaving the utility stuck with the bill.
Of course it is important that utilities be held accountable, but that is best done with performance metrics tied to rewards and penalties. That's why I was pleased to see that Missouri is considering a bill that would bring its regulations into the 21st century. Let's hope that it happens, and that it then spreads to Missouri's neighbors.
A bill now under consideration by the Missouri legislature could give the state's electric power utilities the incentives they need to improve the electric power infrastructure.
In an editorial for the Springfield News-Leader, former Governor Kit Bond harshly criticized the bill's opponents.
Missouri's grid is in dire need of improvements, he said, "yet opponents of this legislation have no plan to deal with our aging power grid. Instead, they have buried their heads in the sandâ€¦ Their do-nothing strategy prevents the electric utilities from being able to make critical improvements."
He went on to complain that the state currently expects "power companies to continue delivering reliable electricity... but denies them a mechanism to pay for the upgrades that keep the electricity flowing."
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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.