NextGrid is the Illinois Utility of the Future Study. Managed by the University of Illinois, in consultation with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), NextGrid is an 18-month consumer-focused investigative study to identify, research, and develop options to address issues facing Illinois’ electric grid, its users, and the utilities who operate it. The study will:

  1. Examine the trends in electricity production, usage, and transactions, and the emerging technologies on the customer and utility sides of the meter that drive the need to consider changes in policy and grid technology in Illinois;
  2. Define “grid modernization” and evaluate how introducing new technologies and policies would be advantageous for Illinois;
  3. Describe grid modernization benefits and challenges for consumers, utilities and the environment; and
  4. Identify legal and regulatory revisions that may be needed to support grid modernization, optimize grid performance, spur innovation, and protect consumers.

NextGrid Working Groups

Research, technical information dissemination, stakeholder discussion and feedback, and consensus-building will occur in seven Working Groups led by subject matter experts (“the Working Group Leaders”). Working group participants will include experts and thought leaders from utilities, energy companies, providers of grid modernization technologies, consumer advocates, environmental organizations and other electricity market actors. The seven Working Groups are focused on specific areas of study:

  1. New Technology Deployment and Grid Integration
  2. Metering, Communications and Data
  3. Reliability, Resiliency and Security
  4. Customer and Community Participation
  5. Electricity Markets
  6. Regulatory and Environmental Policy Issues
  7. Ratemaking

In addition to Working Groups, the NextGrid project will include a Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC) and a Technical Advisory Group (TAG). The SAC will meet quarterly, and provide input on project process and deliverables. The TAG will meet monthly, and advise on whether all relevant technical issues have been identified and addressed. The Lead Facilitator, the University of Illinois, has overall responsibility for ensuring all technical information in the final report is correct, complete and well-supported by research.

Technical Advisory Group

The Technical Advisory Group is composed of national and international subject matter experts, and serves as a resource to the Working Groups and the Illinois Commerce Commission for technical advice. The Technical Advisory Group will convene as needed throughout the study to provide specific guidance and feedback to the Working Groups as they deliberate.

Stakeholder Advisory Council

The Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC) consists of key opinion leaders representing the many stakeholders of the energy sector, including environmental and business interests, consumer advocates, and state and local policymakers. The SAC’s role is to represent its stakeholders’ perspectives and provide guidance and feedback throughout the study.

Final Report

The study will culminate in a NextGrid Final Report issued by the ICC, detailing the opportunities and challenges of grid modernization. This report intends to educate policy makers and energy stakeholders. It will identify options for modernizing grid infrastructure and the policies regulating it, and their potential impact on utilities, consumers, and the environment.

The public is invited and encouraged to participate in the study. To submit a comment, please email ICC.NextGrid@illinois.gov.

To view a copy of the Commission’s Resolution announcing NextGrid, please click here.