Until the end of time, pundits and politicians will debate the role of government as an engine of change. One thing is certain, however, when it comes to change in the realm of technology and energy, government is a driving force.


A recent study measures the success of states in modernizing their electric grid. The results point to a strong correlation between government policies and regulations on the one hand and the degree of investment in grid modernization on the other.


In July, the GridWise Alliance and the Smart Grid Policy Center announced the release of the first Grid Modernization Index (GMI), a ranking of states based on their progress in modernizing their electricity systems with smart grid technologies. The GMI ranking system, or “scorecard,” uses a defined set of criteria to evaluate and convey progress within these three categories: policies, customer engagement and grid operations.


Among a multitude of findings, several are key. For one, states that have retail choice, belong to regional transmission organizations or independent system operators, and have renewable portfolio standards all scored well on the GMI, showing a positive correlation between policies and greater investments in grid modernization.


The GMI results also showed that states that scored higher overall have higher scores in engaging customers. Those same states also deployed more sensors and advanced modeling tools for transmission and distribution grids. Finally, the 15 highest scoring states all have deployed smart meters to their residential and small commercial customers to some extent, and 10 of 
these 15 have installed smart meters for at least 60 percent of 
their consumers.


The GMI reflects data collected from 41 states and the District of Columbia. The report highlights the 15 states with the highest scores. Of those, California and Texas tied for first, with Maryland a close second. Rounding out the top 15 in order of their ranking are Delaware, Pennsylvania, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Ohio, Nevada, Illinois, Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma, Vermont and Maine.