At the South Carolina Public Service Commission, one of our roles is to stay on top of emerging trends in the energy world. When we’re not helping resolve utility company complaints, we’re looking for ways to benefit both our customers and those around the country when it comes to sustainable energy.
One big emerging trend here is something called “all-source bidding,” which removes outdated utility bidding processes and replaces them with more competitive ones that save customers money, relive regulators of unneeded risks and open up advanced energy opportunities all over the board. Let’s look at some basics on all-source bidding.
All-Source Bidding Basics
In most current utility systems, specific technologies are prescribed to meet future demands – think of a power plant for a particular type of energy. Utilities generally buy or build these themselves.
With all-source bidding, though, this system changes. Instead, utilities define their needs in advance, and then allow various technologies and services that feel they can meet those needs to compete for these opportunities. This allows the true best options to come to the forefront every time, decreasing gaps in technology and customer delivery.
More Affordable Grid
Through these practices, many utilities around the country are finding a much more affordable electricity grid. All technologies can now compete to meet a given need, even those that might not qualify under previous specification practices. Utilities in areas like San Diego, Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California and several others have already begun experimenting with this technique, to great results so far.
All-source bidding creates a more competitive market, the kind the founders of our country envisioned. It’s technology-neutral, meaning utilities seek bids for loads rather than for specific kinds of utilities. Bidders can provide a combination of various resources, storage providers and solutions, and the market itself is allowed to dictate which of these wins out. Transparent performance criteria is created in advance to ensure competition is fair at all times.
As technology innovation continues to explode, it’s increasingly looking like this is the right approach. Customers and regulators alike are benefitted – customers get better and cheaper utility options, while regulators get a solid record on which to approve utility investment decisions.
Not a Simple Process
Now, all-source bidding is still complex and will take some work to implement. Utilities need to conduct and be realistic about their resource needs, for one, and criteria for bid selection needs to be clear. There are also some concerns about attempting to compare technologies that are not actually similar, but utilities are being instructed to be clearer about their criteria to help avoid this.
To learn more about all-source bidding, or for information on any of our utility company complaint or public utility record search services, speak to the pros at South Carolina Public Service Commission today.