The electric industry of the 21st Century is the story of the evolution of two ecosystems. The physical grid is the first of these systems. We know that every consuming and producing device on the grid is interconnected. Yet, for the first one hundred plus years of the power industry’s existence, we presumed that one half of the system, the consuming side, was inalterably dumb, and placed all of engineering and innovation efforts on the production and delivery half of the system. We are now getting a bit smarter. We are beginning to understand that by developing and operating the grid to encompass and dynamically optimize the attributes of all of the consuming and producing resources contained on this interdependent ecosystem, we will achieve the highest level of cost effectiveness, efficiency, security and environmental sustainability. Our chief impediment to obtaining this goal is getting the markets, regulation and business models right.
The second ecosystem consists of the many participants that help define how we operate the grid and the associated markets. This ecosystem is also engaged in a rapid evolution. At the end of the last century the participants that defined the market/regulatory environment for the power system was a cozy group of electric utilities, their regulators, consumer advocates, and a few large energy users and independent power generation owners and marketers. This ecosystem has expanded to include a host of other participants, including developers and inventors of renewable and other forms of distributed generation, software and other types of technology innovators, storage providers, environmental advocates, and investors.
The secret sauce of eLab is that it links these two ecosystems. New Business Models for the Distribution Edge demonstrates that through expanding the universe of market participants, we will better define the regulatory and market models that are necessary today to support the successful development and operation of a distributed grid architecture that embraces and takes full advantage of the diverse attributes of all forms of supply and consuming devices–the system of systems. eLab offers both the platform to develop new solutions to new problems and the opportunities to execute on these solutions so that we can move beyond thought to reality.
Audrey Zibelman is the Founder of Viridity Energy, Inc, a nationally recognized smart grid advanced demand management company. Ms. Zibelman formed Viridity after more than 25 years of electric utility industry leadership experience in both the public and private sectors. Ms. Zibelman is a recognized national and international expert in energy policy, markets and Smart Grid innovation. Prior to forming Viridity, Ms. Zibelman was the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of PJM, a Regional Transmission Organization that operates the world's largest wholesale power market and serves 14 states throughout the eastern United States. While there she was responsible for all aspects of PJM's transmission planning, market grid operations and corporate administration.
Ms. Zibelman was previously an executive at Xcel Energy, Inc., where at various times she oversaw transmission operations and planning, energy market trading, risk management, fuel procurement and renewable energy development. She is a former General Counsel of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission and Special Assistant Attorney General to the Minnesota Attorney General. She has participated as both counsel and expert witness in numerous electric utility proceedings before state and federal regulatory and legislative bodies. Specifically Ms. Zibelman has testified before Congress and federal and state agencies on the benefits of power markets and Smart Grids to consumers. Ms. Zibelman has also served on the Boards of organizations responsible for assuring the security and reliability of the nation's power system, including, Reliability First and the GridWise Alliance and the Midwest Reliability Organization.