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by Jeff St. John
March 29, 2019

Back in 2017, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio launched the PowerForward initiative, an open-ended consideration of policies aimed at giving utility customers access to an "innovative marketplace" to turn their energy management and distributed energy resource investment decisions into an integral part of the distribution grid.

This month saw PowerForward take its next stage of development — putting together the industry-stakeholder process to turn this vision into a workable reality.

Earlier this month, PUCO announced that it’s working with EnerNex, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based electric power industry engineering and consulting group, to advise and facilitate two key working groups for this next stage — the Data & Modern Grid Workgroup (DWG) and the Distribution System Planning Workgroup (PWG).

While the two working groups are focused on different aspects of the PowerForward vision, they also overlap quite a bit in terms of the technologies and use cases they’ll be working with, said Ron Chebra, EnerNex vice president of grid modernization.

But in simple terms, the DWG is focused on making smart meter data available to customers, the state’s competitive retail energy service providers and other third parties, while the PWG will take on the challenge of an “integrated distribution system planning process,” from hosting capacity and interconnection standards, to creating opportunities for customers to participate in non-wires alternatives to traditional grid investments.