Our STRIDE plan is designed to enhance the modernization of the energy distribution system in order to improve system safety and reliability for customers. This program was introduced in 2013 with a focus on replacing outmoded gas materials. Utilities across Maryland are now planning to bring this program to the electric side. Once approved, the program will allow for a stronger, more reliable and modern electric grid sooner. STRIDE will allow the replacement of obsolete electric infrastructure, the inclusion of innovative new technologies and stronger smarter security systems to better protect equipment and information.
STRIDE provides a framework for the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to authorize utility plans to upgrade the electric system with the assurance of near real-time cost recovery. The PSC retains its full existing authority to accept, modify or reject any infrastructure investment plan developed by a utility. If approved, a STRIDE plan is funded by a monthly charge that is capped, by law, for customers. When utilities recover investments as the work is performed, more utility capital dollars can be efficiently invested in infrastructure enhancements, and utilities can deliver improved service to customers.
The use of a surcharge mechanism for real-time cost recovery is not creating a new or additive cost to customers. All of the investments provided for under the current gas STRIDE law and those under House Bill 546 are investments the utilities will make, and subject to Commission prudency and reasonableness standards, will be recovered from customers. The only change is timing of when the costs are paid. STRIDE’s pay-as-you-go method provides more gradual payments and a strong credit rating, which can help reduce finance costs over the long term. Those savings are passed onto customers.
STRIDE-related projects provide for a more automated and stronger grid including enhanced facilitation of integration of distributed generation resources, like wind and solar facilities. Utilities are also evaluating how to integrate energy storage and battery technology as it becomes more viable in the future.