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Cantwell seeks guidance for future energy policy to accelerate grid changes

Sen.Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has asked the National Academies of Science andEngineering to guide Congress as the electric industry faces fundamentalchanges in technology, consumer expectations and environmental standards.

In aletter dated July15, Cantwell, who is the ranking Democrat for the Senate Energy and NaturalResources Committee, explained that distributed generation, two-waytransmission and energy storage "hold the promise of a more efficient andclean grid that empowers consumers." The committee held a hearing in March2015 on new technologies that will be part of the future grid, which Cantwellsaid convinced her of the need to update government policy to reflect upcomingchanges.

"Iam confident that American entrepreneurs will continue in the footsteps of[Thomas] Edison, bringing innovative inventions to market," Cantwellwrote, adding that the public sector must provide a "reliable platform"for such innovation.

Cantwellacknowledged that the government will not be the primary driver of theunderlying modifications to the electric grid but can fill gaps, smooth bumpsand accelerate changes.

WhileHouse and Senate lawmakers are preparing to go to a on energy legislation thatcontains provisions for grid modernization programs, Cantwell said the NationalAcademies of Science and Engineering can provide guidance on next steps.Cantwell specifically suggested that the academies could offer recommendationson any policy gaps pertaining to future business models that could makerecovering costs or remaining competitive difficult for utilities, neededcybersecurity measures and key "no regret" investments that couldhelp create a more efficient grid.