The Fundamentals of Electricity Law
September 29–30, 2016
Silver Spring MD
Utility law defines the powers, rights and responsibilities of the participants: utilities, competitors, customers, landowners, regulators and legislators. When technological change brings market structure change, we look to law for stability: for clear and consistent descriptions of those powers, rights and responsibilities.
In today's electric industry, the epicenter of technological and market structure change is the space called "distributed energy resources": rooftop solar, community solar, microgrids, demand response, energy efficiency and storage—all ways to diversify and democratize how we produce and consume electric power. DER is the eighth chapter in a book begun 40 years ago, the other chapters being long distance phone service, local wireline service, gas pipeline transportation, wholesale gas, wholesale electricity, retail gas and retail electricity.
In these efforts to bring competition into formerly monopolistic markets, in making powers, rights and responsibilities clear and consistent, how helpful is regulatory law? On two crucial sub-questions, the answer is "Not very."