We all associate the middle of April with taxes. For utilities in Minnesota, the first of April also means it is time to file Annual Smart Grid Reports. Back in March, the Minnesota PUC issued a notice clarifying the information sought in the reports. Cooperative and municipal utilities were asked to voluntarily file the reports so the Commission can obtain a full assessment of smart grid development in Minnesota. The following topics are discussed:

  • “Smart” functions enabled with existing infrastructure and systems, including what percentage of the utility’s meters are currently mechanical, AMR, or AMI, and commentary on the capability of each
  • Planned or completed system improvements which could affect customer service, power quality, or service quality metrics
  • Current customer access to data, such as usage or outage data, and how that data educates customers and whether or not there is any planned additional customer access to data
  • Time-varying rates and demand response
  • The general costs of completed or planned projects, including the costs of changes to billing systems and, if applicable, the early retirement of meters or other equipment when compared to the benefits realized or expected to be realized

The reports can be found at the Commission’s generic docket on smart grid. The MPUC’s home page has a consumer-friendly smart grid FAQs page. Here is an interesting excerpt:

“Has the MPUC authorized cost recovery for smart grid equipment, such as smart meters/AMI?

The Commission has authorized cost recovery for any type of equipment where the cost is incurred reasonably and prudently, whether or not it is smart grid-related. Utilities have already submitted proposals for projects that could be considered to include smart grid equipment and would be granted cost recovery on a case-by-case basis. There is no single decision where the Commission has stated it will automatically grant cost recovery for smart grid equipment, because the Commission first would review the specific project to ensure costs are reasonable.”