SPEER Commission Addresses Non-wires Alternatives 

Safety, reliability, and affordability remain top objectives for deeper state engagement in longer-term distribution system planning. The PUCT has obtained comments under Project No. 48023 and will consider rules that could allow “Non-Wires Alternative (NWA)” technologies to replace aging infrastructure and modernize grids. Texas is looking to improve distribution system efficiency, and to enable consumers to have greater control over energy costs and sources. Can the utilities deploy NWA targeting energy efficiency, or integrating higher levels of distributed energy resources (DERs) such as rooftop solar, distributed energy storage, and price-responsive demand?

The difficult policy questions include whether investor-owned electric utilities may own, or contract for services, and how they could recover these investments, or make a profit from NWA. It will also require policy changes to improve the transparency of the utility transmission and delivery planning, and incentives to encourage investments in new technologies.

The 2017 SPEER Commission Report includes their consensus statement to encourage the industry to continue to look for ways to improve the market and accelerate investment in energy efficiency, and other NWA. SPEER convened this broad stakeholder group and later published the following consensus statement:

“Investor Owned Utilities evaluate various options for delivering safe, reliable and cost effective service. When these utilities identify and stimulate alternative cost-effective, non-traditional infrastructure solutions, such as energy efficiency, that offer the same level of safe and reliable service, these utilities should be allowed cost-recovery and a rate of return for those expenditures as though they were capital investments. The Commission supports awarding financial incentives to Investor Owned Utilities that reduce revenue requirements relative to what they would have been through such investments.”

We are pleased to share this report from Rocky Mountain Institute, The Non-Wires Solutions Implementation Playbook: A Practical Guide for Regulators, Utilities, and Developers.