The Big Scoop on the 2016 National Town Meeting

Jun 29, 2016

For the first time ever, the National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid will be presented by The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) in Washington, D.C. after having merged with Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid only a year earlier in 2015. The merger demonstrates the symbiotic nature of Demand Response (DR), solar, and the grid. Many are curious as to the new format and nature in which the National Town Meeting will be presented. However, there is no need for concern or skepticism of solar as the only topic, DR will be more present than ever. In other words, it will keep the DR in the DER. In the past 10 years, the topics covered within the forum have vastly transitioned towards addressing how better adapt to increased customer participation within the grid through various Distributed Energy Resources (DER). With new technologies that create a more interconnected network through software and control devices and increased DER, the market must continue to account for these rapid changes through an open dialogue forum on demand response and smart grid.

After having attended virtually all the previous meetings, I believe that this upcoming National Town Meeting is a step in the right direction towards not only encouraging but also developing a more interactive and present customer within the grid. It is no surprise that the grid has undergone rapid change within the past half-decade. The focus on DER is derivative of the increasing convergence between technology, energy markets and regulation that is the push driving an increased role of the consumer in the grid, as well as increased grid management. The grid network has been historically characterized by the vertically integrated  utility with centralized generation and one-directional power flow, yet with a greater emergence of DERs a bidirectional grid is needed to account for customer-side generation. The question can no longer simply be “how can we manage the grid to optimize the customer experience” but now must be “how can we not only employ demand side management techniques but also integrate customer-generated power through DERs back into the grid”.

Continuously, Nexant has helped to act as a catalyst in starting the conversation by occupying a unique position within the market. Nexant’s position is on both sides of the utility revenue meter, in regards to a customer-facing and utility-facing perspective. Amidst concerns, customers do not want to dissociate from the grid even with new customer-side generation such as solar and wind. Having experience with millions of customers present within utility programs, Nexant understands that customers want the utility and reliability of the grid infrastructure while becoming more active participants. I am excited to experience the upcoming National Town Meeting with the belief that DR and DER processes will continue to be developed in tandem with the customer in order to provide greater value for both customers and utilities. 

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