Starting January 31, the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) will start taking applications from those whose ideas, they hope, will help re-shape Connecticut’s power grid through products and services that will mean economic benefits for all ratepayers and help the state to advance its decarbonization goals.
On Tuesday, staff from PURA and Strategen, a consulting firm, outlined the new Innovative Energy Solutions program, through which they hope to get projects that will result in a “decarbonized, affordable, and equitable” electric grid for the state’s electric ratepayers.
The online informational session drew nearly 150 participants.
“We’re excited to see how you will be able to shape Connecticut’s grid whether you are from in state or out of state,” said Eli Asher, a project manager from Strategen.
The program, which PURA first established in March 2022, allows approved innovations to pilot their projects over a 12 to 18 month period, during which time they will be able to collect data to see how they perform.
Successful projects that show actual benefits will then be eligible for implementation statewide.
“The hope is this will become a very collaborative, innovative and engaging process and program,” Julia Dumaine, PURA”s supervisor of strategy and operations, said.
Dumaine explained that applicants must have a specific service or technology in mind that is well developed and ready for testing, adding that if the potential applicant is in the start-up phase, they may not want to apply yet.
“We might recommend that you come back at a later cycle,” she said.
Any entrepreneurs that wish to participate in the IES program need to adhere to a certain theme which, for this cycle, is ‘demand-side flexibility’, which presenters said can be defined as the ability to shift or reduce electricity demand or consumption from a device’s normal electricity profile.
Some examples they gave of projects include thermal storage and advanced forecasting.
There are three ways projects can enter an application – either an innovator can submit an idea, a utility can submit an idea, or applicants can be an innovator/utility collaboration.
Each project chosen to pilot will be given a budget of up to $5 million. While applicants can work collaboratively with Eversource and United Illuminating – if they approach them directly – the program will not facilitate such partnerships, Asher said.
There will, however, be a pitch event in April – a specific date has to still be determined – when select applicants can discuss their projects with either company.
In addition to PURA and Strategen, oversight of this program will include the Innovation Advisory Council (IAC) composed of groups including the Connecticut Green Bank, Connecticut Innovations, the Office of Consumer Counsel, Eversource and UI, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, CTNext and the Yale Carbon Containment Lab.
Those interested in submitting a proposal may do so through https://ct-ies.com/, starting January 31.