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Engaging Consumers, Promoting Renewables Globally

Incenting and integrating renewable energy is a topic of great interest throughout the world

The Sixth World Forum on Energy Regulation was held last week in Istanbul.  The previous gatherings were held in Montreal, Rome, Washington, Athens and Quebec.  Each of the previous forums brought together leaders in the energy industry from across the globe.  This sixth forum was no different.

I was honored and privileged to be a part of the U.S. delegation that included fifteen state regulators from fourteen states.  It was humbling to participate in a global gathering of utility regulators and other energy industry participants.  It was enlightening to hear from regulators from 39 countries on six continents.  Notably, the issues we are all tackling are very similar.  The issues we are facing, driven by concerns over climate change, technological advances, and customer expectations, are universal.  Our approaches may differ, but our challenges are very much the same.

Over three days we heard from regulators, academics, and other industry representatives about emerging issues facing the energy industry.  We heard from regulators operating in developed markets and developing markets.  Plenary and concurrent sessions focused on security of supply, technological advancements, research and development, sustainability, improving investment environments, and regional markets.

 Many of the plenary and concurrent sessions addressed a common theme: engaging consumers.  Many regulators talked about the need to engage consumers as a general proposition.  More specifically, there was discussion about the need to engage consumers in a dynamic, changing environment.  Many countries have targeted consumer outreach and education programs. 

The panel on which I participated was entitled "Renewable Energy, Climate Change, and Water Management/Regulation."  I was joined by regulators, an industry representative, and an academic from Hungary, Norway, Brazil, and Turkey. 

Robert S. Kenney

My presentation discussed existing policies at the federal level and in Missouri that are designed to incent deployment of renewable and clean energy.  I described the Clean Power Plan, its goal of reducing carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel fired power plants, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's four building blocks and their applicability to the states.  I also discussed how MISO, the regional grid operator, has been able to handle the integration of high wind penetration.

Incenting and integrating renewable energy is a topic of great interest throughout the world.  My co-panelists shared their countries' respective experience.  Interestingly, the issue of anthropogenic climate change was not subject to significant debate.  Instead, the discussion focused on strategies for increasing the penetration of renewable and clean energy and ways to integrate these resources in an efficient way, with a focus on reliability and balance.

The forum provided a unique opportunity for regulators from all over the world to identify common issues and challenges, share best practices, and identify solutions.  I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to share in and inform the dialogue.

Robert S. Kenney is chairman of the Missouri Public Service Commission and chairman of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment.


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