Commissioner Sherina Edwards just completed her term on the Illinois Commerce Commission (“ICC” or “Commission”). I am honored to catch up with her this month to discuss NextGrid and the future of the electric industry. This is a must-read for utilities and anyone interested in the utility of the future.

Q. Commissioner Edwards, thank you for taking the time to provide me with this interview. Let’s just dive right in. Why is it important for the Illinois Commerce Commission to do a “NextGrid” Modernization Study?

One thing that all parties in the electricity industry agree on is that with new and ever-changing technologies, the industry will evolve more in the next ten years than it has in the past one hundred. What we don’t necessarily know is how these changes will affect the system and what part the key players – consumers, regulators, utilities, policy advocates – will play in this evolution.

NextGrid is a statewide collaborative that will bring those key stakeholders together to address these critical issues by examining the use of new technologies to improve the state’s electric grid while also minimizing costs to consumers.

Illinois is not new to progressive and trailblazing leadership from customer choice laws in 1997 to the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act in 2011 and, lastly, to the most recent Future Energy Jobs Act at the end of 2016. Illinois, and the ICC, as the energy leaders in the state, would be remiss if it did not address these coming changes that will face the utilities and ultimately every citizen in the state of Illinois. At the end of the 18-month process, NextGrid should serve as a guiding tool for all key stakeholders in how we can continue to work together to implement some of these significant changes.

Q. What do you think is currently the biggest challenge facing the utility industry?

I think the biggest challenges currently facing the utility industry are the silos built up between all of the key stakeholders. There so often seems to be a hard wall between industry, the regulators and the consumer advocates. In a day when the conversation regarding the utility of the future is based on the evolving and changing consumer, from passive to active, having all relevant players at the table is something that is required if we truly are going to make the massive improvements on all fronts in the industry from grid modernization to consumer education and understanding.

Q. It is an exciting time as more and more nontraditional companies are becoming involved in the utility industry. What advice do you have for these entities regarding their need to understand the existing regulatory framework and the ICC’s concern for customers?

My advice to non-traditional players is to work with both the traditional players (e.g. utilities, consumer advocates, etc.) and the Commission early and often so that their strategic goals and products can be integrated into Illinois’ energy landscape more seamlessly.

The ICC’s official mission is to balance the interests of consumers and utilities to ensure adequate, efficient, reliable, safe and least-cost public utility services, while promoting the development of an effectively competitive energy supplier market. You’ll notice that both consumers and the development of a competitive energy market are included there. Ultimately the Commission’s job is to balance these sometimes-competing interests, but I fear the perception often is that regulators are “against” the non-traditional companies and favor the status quo. In reality, there are so many experts throughout Illinois, particularly at the Commission, who can guide new entrants through the process of integrating their products and services. My experience has shown that Commissioners view their role as a unique opportunity to unite stakeholders and encourage dialogue, not create difficulties for non-traditional stakeholders. However, the onus is on these types of stakeholder to engage in coordination and discussion via formal initiatives, such as NextGrid, and informal conversations; when companies operate in silos, they are ultimately doing themselves a disservice.

Q. Do you envision a need for legislative changes to fully address the rate design challenges utilities face regarding DER and Micro-grids?

Because the goals and vision of each Commission can be different, I think updates to legislation are the surest way to guarantee that the current Commission’s emphasis on increased technology and innovation continue in perpetuity. A change to legislation also gives utilities and other stakeholders the certainty they need to make investments and plans for the future. However, I also think that market transformations and shifting customer expectations will continue driving the demand for increased DER, micro-grids, battery storage, etc., regardless of if/when laws and regulations change.

I personally believe that it is important for Commission regulations and State legislation to keep pace with these kinds of changes, but I also recognize that not all stakeholders can afford to wait for “regulatory lag” to catch up with in real-time innovation. I think the NextGrid process is a big step in the right direction for regulators in Illinois. While the long-term goal may be legislative certainty, I think we are on the right track for the short-term by engaging with stakeholders and investigating how processes like rate design will be impacted by the integration of new technology.

Q. There is a concern nationwide about the aging utility workforce. What are utilities in Illinois doing to respond to the challenge of the aging workforce … to ensure that the next generation of employees are adequately trained before there is a mass exodus of institutional knowledge?

More than one-half of the current utility workforce will be eligible to retire in the next six to eight years which has the potential to greatly impact utilities’ ability to continue to innovate and solve the electrical transmission challenges of tomorrow. In Illinois, utilities have shown that they understand how the aging workforce could potentially negatively affect their operations and have taken measures to address it head on. Mainly, the utilities have developed strategic plans to retain and develop employees to fill these critical roles, hopefully before any such mass exodus will occur. Additionally, these measures include aggressive recruiting programs in an effort to fill the gaps that may be left in a few short years or less. One positive of this demographic shift is an increased focus on diversity and a much-needed emphasis on the recruitment/retention of a more representative work force and supplier base. Of course, many utilities have also incorporated technology solutions that will allow utilities to break down internal silos and address significant issues using less people than they historically have had to (i.e. convergence of information and operational technology and customer service and distribution operations).

Commissioner Edwards, this was an incredible interview. Thank you for providing us with such an honest, insightful and fresh perspective. You may no longer be on the ICC but your knowledge and wisdom will continue to shape the industry. I appreciate your time. 

Camps have changed a lot since my childhood days of learning to swim at the Y. Somewhere between the increased competition for college admission and the universities’ quest to monetize all that empty space during the summer, parents have started spending a lot of money for “enrichment.” Admittedly, I have fallen prey. Recently, I sat down with my 10th grader to finalize his summer plans. I was amazed at his options. There are camps pre-college programs for all of his hobbies and every interest he didn’t know he had! One in particular caught my eye – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has a Smart Grid Camp Pre-College Program! In this week-long program, students conduct a market experiment to learn about electricity pricing. Using a simulation tool, they will explore how the grid responds to loss of equipment, extreme power demands and other problems that might lead to blackouts. Students learn how the electric grid is being adapted to incorporate renewable sources of energy such as solar arrays and wind turbine farms. Working with RPI faculty and graduate students, high schoolers will learn about computer networks, cyber security and even tour power grid manufacturing or control facilities. Wow! This description is certainly deserving of the pre-college label. Unfortunately I will not be able to provide you with insider details. My interest in the smart grid has not rubbed off on my son. He selected a Gaming Academy and was not persuaded when I pointed out you need energy to power those games he will be designing.

Rensselaer also offers a Smart Lighting – Smart Power – Smart Systems Pre-College Program. It introduces high school students to lighting, power and sensor technologies and how they can be integrated into real world, sustainable and well-engineered Smart Systems. Students will be engaged in hands-on activities using the fundamentals of electronics and photonics to engineer solutions that address today’s social and environmental challenges. They will interact with engineers and scientists and participate in guided tours of high-tech manufacturing and/or research facilities. (Applications accepted until full.)

There are a variety of energy camps and pre-college programs across the country; some start as early as 3rd grade. This is good news. Optimizing the grid will require energy literacy. Like other transformations, children often lead the way. While it will not help with immediate needs, utilities should find developing the pipeline helpful to the looming talent shortage they face. Here’s a sampling of what is being offered:

  • Rethink Energy Florida hosts an Energy Ball to raise funds so that no kid is turned away from its Energy Camp for 3rd-6th graders. Campers make their own solar ovens.
  • The Touchstone Energy Camp in Indiana is just for 6th graders. A mixture of traditional camp, kids learn about electric distribution and go from rides in bucket trucks to horseback riding, swimming and archery.
  • The Green Energy Camp at the University of Washington-Seattle provides 6th-8th graders with a STEM approach to our energy future. Campers will build their own electricity-generating wind turbines and use math to measure the energy output of their designs and make them more efficient. (Waitlist available.)
  • The Shell Energy Venture Camp at LSU provides 9th-11th graders and teachers with the opportunity to learn about energy careers while having fun. They will perform hands-on experiments to explore the entire process of energy development; from how oil and natural gas are formed to the ways various types of energy are used. Campers will build a generator, a motor, a car, a windmill, a solar house and a robot! (Still accepting applications.)
  • University of Southern California/Chevron Frontiers of Energy Resources Summer Camp offers high school juniors and a few math and science teachers a preparatory, interactive training program focusing on various energy resources including fossil fuels, solar, biofuels, nuclear energy and information technologies for energy efficient operations
  • Also at USC, ExxonMobil sponsors the Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp providing activities, experiments, projects and field experiences for students entering 6th-8th grade in the fall of 2014. The camp promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and supports historically underserved and underrepresented students with limited opportunities. Selected students attend this two week residential camp free of charge! (Deadline May 9, 2014.) This camp is offered at other schools throughout the US and includes mentoring from Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr., the first African-American to walk in space and camp founder.
  • Purdue University is home to the Duke Energy Academy. Purdue University has launched an Energy Academy to address the looming national crisis in the number and quality of students entering the STEM disciplines. Concerned that a decline in STEM-based education will impact our nation’s ability to lead the world in the energy sector, the Duke Energy Academy provides a week-long course in STEM-related energy topic areas of power generation, transportation, power transmission, energy efficiency and new research frontiers. After camp, students and teachers will be encouraged to launch energy clubs in their schools.
  • The Renewable Energy Camp at University of Wisconsin-Platteville is a week-long program that immerses 9th-12th graders in programming that provides insight into the dynamic field of renewable energy. Activities focus on practical applications of renewable energy in the field. Students will develop core knowledge of systems at the intersection of physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, electrical and mechanical engineering and agriculture. (Registration is currently open.)
  • Skyline College in San Bruno, California provides high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to earn two units of college credit for free at its Green Energy Camp. Students will learn valuable marketing and business skills as well as an overview of solar and energy efficiency products and services. The camp is part of the Energy Systems Technology Management program.

I am impressed. I can’t recall specifics about my high school summers but I am pretty sure I did not do anything nearly as academic. This list is not exhaustive. Next year I plan to do a similar post earlier in the year, ahead of application deadlines. However, thanks to DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, no one has to be left out this year. Parents and teachers can create their own energy camp experience utilizing this lesson plan. There are so many energy related camps and pre-college opportunities, I am confident we will have a powerful future.

I know I have said it at least a hundred times, but every time I discuss smart meters, I feel the need to repeat it. The smart grid is not just about smart meters. But today’s focus is on smart meters. A recent news story about a family’s smart meter experience motivated me to write this post. It serves as a reminder about the positive attributes of smart meters.

As most utilities already know, smart meters enable multi-directional power and information flows between the utility, the grid and the customer. This multi-level communication gives the utility the ability to quickly identify outages and resolve other services problems. For example, this 50 second video is a news story about how the smart meter helped save a customer’s home.

Hard to believe that prior to smart grid technology, in most cases a utility did not know there was a problem with a customer’s service until the customer called. Now utilities are addressing service issues proactively or before a problem cascades, improving reliability. Not meant to be an exhaustive list, a few other smart meter benefits often include:

  • More data. Customers will have the ability to go online to see a detailed history of their energy usage and costs. Depending on the utility, they may be able to view hourly electric consumption and then compare their usage to last week, last month or even last year. This is valuable information that can help you make informed energy choices.
  • The utility’s operations will become more efficient, including allowing customers to start or switch electric service quickly.
  • Meters will be read remotely. By eliminating the need for a meter reader to visit a home every month, customer privacy is increased and emissions are reduced.
  • Job creation. While the meter reader job will be eliminated, may other jobs will be created to support the new infrastructure. This includes jobs related to the labor required to manufacture, install and maintain the smart meters; the construction and maintenance of communications infrastructure; and the creation of computer hardware and software. Again, this leads to potential energy conservation and reduction of emissions.

Later this year, NIST expects to release a draft of the Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards (“Framework”) document for a formal 60-day public comment period and the final version of the document is planned for publication in the first half of 2014. However, those attending the SGIP Inaugural Meeting received an advanced look at the new Framework.

NIST says the smart grid will ultimately require hundreds of standards. To prioritize its work, NIST chose to focus on seven key functionalities plus cybersecurity and network communications. Together, they create nine priority areas:

  • Demand response and consumer energy efficiency: Provide mechanisms and incentives for utilities, business, industrial and residential customers to modify energy use during times of peak demand or when power reliability is at risk. Demand response is necessary for optimizing the balance of power supply and demand.
  • Wide-area situational awareness: Utilizes monitoring and display of power-system components and performance across interconnections and over large geographic areas in near real-time. The goals of situational awareness are to understand and ultimately optimize the management of power-network components, behavior and performance, as well as to anticipate, prevent, or respond to problems before disruptions arise. 
  • Distributed Energy Resources (DER): Covers generation and/or electric storage systems that are interconnected with distribution systems, including devices that reside on a customer premise, “behind the meter.” DER systems utilize a wide range of generation and storage technologies such as renewable energy, combined heat and power generators (CHP), fixed battery storage and electric vehicles with bi-directional chargers. 
  • Energy Storage: Means of storing energy, directly or indirectly. The most common bulk energy storage technology used today is pumped hydroelectric storage technology. New storage capabilities — especially for distributed storage — would benefit the entire grid, from generation to end use.
  • Electric transportation: Refers primarily to enabling large-scale integration of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Electric transportation could significantly reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, increase use of renewable sources of energy, provide electric energy storage to ameliorate peak-load demands, and dramatically reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. 
  • Network communications: Refers to a variety of public and private communication networks, both wired and wireless, that will be used for smart grid domains and subdomains. An interface is a point where two systems need to exchange data with each other. Effective communication and coordination occurs when each of the systems understand and can respond to the data provided by the other system, even if the internal workings of the system are quite different.
  • Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI): Provides near real-time monitoring of power usage. AMI consists of the communications hardware and software, and the associated system and data management software, that together create a two-way network between advanced meters and utility business systems, enabling collection and distribution of information to customers and other parties, such as the competitive retail supplier or the utility itself. 
  • Distribution grid management: Focuses on maximizing performance of feeders, transformers and other components of networked distribution systems and integrating them with transmission systems and customer operations. As smart grid capabilities such as AMI and demand response are developed, and as large numbers of distributed energy resources and PEVs are deployed, the automation of distribution systems becomes increasingly more important to the efficient and reliable operation of the overall power system.
  • Cybersecurity: Encompasses measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the electronic information communication systems and the control systems necessary for the management, operation and protection of the smart grid’s energy, information technology and telecommunications infrastructures.

Given the importance and magnitude of the smart grid, at the most basic level just about everyone you know is a stakeholder. According to NIST, the stakeholder groups who may find Framework 3.0 most useful include:

  • Utilities and suppliers concerned with how best to understand and implement the smart grid (especially Chapters  4, 5 and 6);
  • Testing laboratories and certification organizations (especially Chapter 7);
  • Academia (especially Section 5.1 and Chapter 8); and
  • Regulators (especially Chapters 1, 4, and 6, and also Section 3.5).

The “smart grid” is not a thing. It represents a concept… the massive upgrade and evolution of our current energy infrastructure. The long-term journey will require innovation and risks. Yesterday the California Public Utility Commission (“CPUC”) issued an order adopting an Energy Storage Procurement Framework and Design Program. The CPUC states that inclusion of energy storage in California’s energy resource portfolio will assist in grid reliability and potentially reduce the need to construct some generation facilities. The Energy Storage Procurement Framework and Design Program is guided by three purposes:

  1. The optimization of the grid, including peak reduction, contribution to reliability needs, or deferment of transmission and distribution upgrade investments;
  2. The integration of renewable energy; and
  3. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, per California’s goals.

California law defines energy storage system as commercially available technology that is capable of absorbing energy, storing it for a period of time, and thereafter dispatching the energy.

“Energy storage has the potential to be a game changer for our electric grid, and I fully support the goals of grid optimization, integration of renewable energy, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Commissioner Mark J. Ferron, in a press release issued by the CPUC.  

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company and San Diego Gas & Electric Company must each file procurement applications containing a proposal for their first energy storage procurement period by March 1, 2014. The targets for the companies are shown on the chart below. This is huge. Utilities in regulated and unregulated states will observe the implementation with great interest. The regulatory framework seems to be changing like the departure board at Union Station, creating strategy challenges for utilities looking to create or at least maintain shareholder value.

*Click the chart above to view it at a larger size.

Demand response, energy efficiency and renewable energy all play a role in the development of the smart grid. Given the services they offer, I thought the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) deserves a shout out. I suspect many are not aware of the free technical expertise and information the office provides. Created to facilitate the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions, EERE has a team of talented engineers and others who work to develop and deliver market-driven solutions for energy-saving homes, buildings, manufacturing, sustainable transportation and renewable electricity generation. The Technical Assistance Program (TAP) will benefit regulators, utilities, state and local government and even school districts. One-on-one support is available in addition to an informative webinar series. The program covers a range of topics including financing solutions. Here are a few upcoming webinars:

Commercial Building Energy Data Access: A Success Story
Tuesday, August 6, 2013; 3–4:30 p.m. EDT
Register to attend
This webinar will present the underlying barriers affecting access to building energy data and the solutions currently underway across the country. The webinar will also feature the successful collaboration between building owners, utilities, regulators and policymakers in Philadelphia, and new resources that state and local leaders can use to replicate this model in their communities, including SEE Action’s Utility Regulator’s Guide to Data Access for Commercial Building Energy Performance Benchmarking. State and local government leaders, state utility regulators, building managers, energy consultants and other key stakeholders are encouraged to attend.

TAP Webinar: Emerging Technologies
Thursday, August 15, 2013; 2–3:30 p.m. EDT
Register to attend
This webinar on Emerging Technologies and Energy Efficiency will cover how states can use new technologies to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. This presentation will highlight new technologies and approaches to auditing, building retrofitting, lighting, heating, cooling, retro-commissioning and deep energy retrofits that can assist state and local programs in reaching energy sustainability. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions of the internationally-known Jesse Dean of NREL and other presenters, offering local and national experience.

Utilities service territories are unique in many ways, including geography and culture. Despite the differences, there are benefits gained from studying the experiences of peers. Voices of Experience|Insights on Smart Grid Customer Engagement provides practical advice from utilities that have implemented smart grid projects to educate and engage their customers. It’s an effort to capture the industry’s knowledge regarding customer engagement related to smart grid deployment. While the guide may lean towards advanced metering infrastructure, the principals and insights apply to a much broader perspective, including engaging customers for dynamic pricing programs, demand response programs, distribution automation and other technology, such as home area network (HAN) devices. The guide is practical, often providing links to detailed examples actually implemented by utilities. As a contributor, I am partial: The guide is a must read for utilities involved in smart grid deployment.

With smart grid events being offered almost daily, unless your day job is to attend seminars, a vetting of the agenda and presenters is critical. The Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid, now simply known as ADS, is celebrating its 10th anniversary and lived up to expectations this week with the commencement of its signature event, The National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid. With knowledgeable and experienced presenters from the White House to the California Public Utility Commission, the dialog at Wednesday’s meeting highlighted policy, pricing, innovation and barriers. Sitting in the audience, the conversation among attendees was as enlightening as the thought-provoking discussions from the panelists.

During a break, I had a great conversation with Jamison (Jay) Shaver from GE’s Digital Energy business. From light bulbs and appliances for residential customers to a suite of products to help utilities develop an intelligent and resilient distribution grid, GE is smart-grid-poised industry wide. As Jay discussed with me the five core components of the modern grid, he stressed that many of the supporting systems and platforms used by utilities can now be seamlessly integrated, providing better access to outage information across functional areas such as customer service, dispatch and engineering. Having a dashboard ready with various data points should improve the restoration process. According to Digital Energy, here are the five core grid modernization components:

  1. Smart meters and an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI),
  2. Geographic information system (GIS),
  3. Outage management system (OMS),
  4. Distributed management system (DMS) and
  5. Distribution automation (DA) capabilities.

Jay says these core elements work cohesively to help prevent outages. Typically morbid, I learned about the concept of a smart meter “last gasp”: As the power goes out, smart meters transmit important data to the utility, notifying them of the outage and other diagnostics. Such vital information improves restoration efforts. Knowledge is power.

Most utilities list the ability to minimize theft of service as a smart grid benefit. In the same crime fighting spirit, smart meters provide customers an unexpected method of detecting a possible break-in. A customer of Georgia-based co-op Tri-State EMC stumbled upon this benefit when she noticed that usage spiked in her second home. The reason for the spike: thieves had broken the sliding glass door and heat was cycling on and off. Smart meter usage data helped the homeowner provide sheriff’s deputies with the suspected date of the break-in. While the percentage of customers with second homes may be narrow, this same analysis can benefit all customers away from their primary residences for extended periods of time. We already know energy monitoring can provide early detection of equipment malfunction, but it can also help catch a thief and quite possibly prevent a customer from walking in on a potentially dangerous situation. While you can’t put a price tag on life, utilities can look to their service territory crime statistics to quantify the magnitude of this benefit. In contrast to what has been written by smart meter critics, here is the statement of the week: Smart meters can help keep people safe.

I am looking forward to the National Town Meeting on Demand Response & Smart Grid July 9-11, 2013. It is one event I enjoy attending as it typically provides a wealth of information about these important topics. I am pleased to offer readers a glimpse into the National Town Meeting as I recently had the opportunity to ask Dan Delurey, president of the Association for Demand Response and Smart Grid (ADS), a few questions regarding the upcoming meeting.  

Evers: Dan, what would you describe as one of the foremost issues facing DR and how will it be addressed at the NTM?

Delurey: At the Town Meeting we will discuss a whole range of issues, challenges, and opportunities facing DR and smart grid. One of the key topics is the issue of time-based pricing and how to move that forward in the states. Time-based pricing is critical for making people aware that electricity does not cost the same to produce and deliver at all times, and for giving them the price signals that will encourage them to participate in DR programs. Many smart meters (which are necessary for such pricing because they measure on intervals) are now installed, and a very large amount of research shows that many customers will accept time-based rates. Now we need action by state utility commissions and utilities. At the Town Meeting we will discuss some new data on time-based pricing, and talk about how policy can be moved forward in a way that all stakeholders will accept.  

Another important issue we will be covering at the Town Meeting is including DR in new business and policy areas, such as building codes and design. Technologies such as building energy management systems (BEMs), programmable thermostats, and smart lighting and appliances have opened up a great opportunity for DR to reduce building energy usage. However, to really encourage this growth, these kinds of technologies must be included in the buildings themselves, which is where building codes and design standards come in.

Evers: This is all really great stuff. Will there be any information provided regarding the smart grid?

Delurey: On the smart grid side of things, we have an entire session devoted to microgrids and another one devoted to improving flexibility and resilience. We will also present some case studies on distribution automation and management. All of these may not get as much attention as smart meters, smart buildings and smart pricing, but they are very important in optimizing the overall electricity system.

Evers: A lot of small cities and towns are hurting financially and like most businesses, energy is most likely in the top five of their budget spend. How can they benefit from DR and the conference?

Delurey: Institutional buildings, such as municipal government buildings, are prime candidates for DR programs. If they have not done so already, local governments should talk to their utility or to a DR company about joining a DR program. DR usually provides an additional revenue stream to the owners of buildings on top of what they get from their energy savings. That would help them from a budgetary standpoint.    

A new area where local governments can engage in DR is dynamic street lighting. Almost all local governments spend money on street and public area lighting.  With new technology that allows lighting to be automatically and dynamically controlled, local governments can better optimize their street lighting and save money. For example, they can program these lights to dim when electricity costs more (if combined with time-based pricing), or they can even brighten the lights in certain areas or at certain times to deter crime (but save money by not having to brighten all of the lights). This is an exciting new area of the smart grid, right at the intersection of DR and energy efficiency, and we will have a presentation at the Town Meeting about it.

Evers: Last year you gave out your first Griddie Awards. How was it received? Care to give us a teaser on some of this year’s nominees? Any new faces or organizations?

Delurey: Last year we got a lot of feedback that the Griddie Awards were a great new addition to the Town Meeting. The Griddie Awards recognize the best marketing and communications efforts for smart grid programs and technologies. Attendees at the Town Meeting got to vote in real-time on which finalists they wanted to win, so it was another way to encourage participation and involvement in the event by all attendees. This year we’ve gotten a lot of great submissions from all over the country, which can be seen on our website. The large number of submissions shows that there are a lot of marketing and educational efforts going on to make customers aware of the DR and smart grid programs and technologies available to them, and how they can benefit from these. I hope you’ll come to the Town Meeting to find out who the winners are!

Evers: Thanks Dan.

If you are interested in attending the National Town Meeting, it’s not too late to register. I’ll see you there!