Last week, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) gathered over 55 utilities, solutions providers, independent systems operators and government, nonprofit and academic representatives for their inaugural Grid Evolution Midwest virtual conference. The first of five regional Grid Evolution events planned in 2021, this conference explored the successes, challenges, and opportunities of the Midwest energy transition. Attendees had meaningful opportunities to connect, learn, and engage about rate design, regulation, electrification and more. SEPA invited distinguished speakers with regional and topical expertise on decarbonizing the nation’s energy grid, including Uplight’s very own VP of Product & General Manager of Demand Management Solutions, Emilie Tullis!
Emilie was recognized for her leadership and experience in DSM solutions by SEPA and spoke at the Orchestrating the Transition to a Clean and Modern Grid in the Midwest session. Alongside Emilie was Robert Richhart, Chief Technology Officer at Hoosier Energy, and Jessica Harrison, Director of R&D at MISO. This session focused on what planning and operations are effectively aligned to the goals contributing to the modernization of the Midwest energy system. Some of the main themes discussed were the importance of tailored communication between energy providers and users and the importance of connecting energy efficient systems to the energy user’s specific needs. Here are some of the questions that participants were asked.
What are your thoughts on how solutions providers can create opportunities for utilities to support grid modernization efforts?
Emilie talked about the ability of Uplight’s Demand Response (DR) resources to play a growing role in grid modernization. This entails educating the customer on their energy use, managing their energy in the background, and incentivizing them to make energy saving decisions based on their demographic. Emilie said, “We want to meet the customers where they are…if you have customers that do have high loads during peak periods, Uplight can identify by looking at their load profile and tailor that offer to them.”
How important do you think collaboration and transparency is across grid operations in the Midwest?
From a solution provider perspective, Uplight has different layers of collaboration. It is necessary for Uplight to “dig in” with each utility and find their unique challenges, taking their budget, regulatory environment and customer feedback into account to make comprehensive solutions specific to their needs. “Utilities have an opportunity to collaborate more because they are not necessarily competitive, they all have a goal of serving their customers and moving toward grid modernization and energy justice initiatives… Uplight is excited about the data we can share and the opportunities that come with collaboration,” said Emilie Tullis in the panel.
What grid modernization opportunity will have the biggest impact on the grid in the next 5 years?
Wrapping it up, Emilie said “Bringing energy consumers into the fold is a part of our solution…Let’s pay attention to the demanders of the capacity that we are trying to manage: our customers with unique challenges and opportunities.”
All speakers within this session expressed their excitement about being a part of these grid modernization initiatives, and while decarbonizing the energy grid will take much effort, time, and collaboration, we are headed in the right direction.