The National Association of Regulatory Commissioners (NARUC) is holding its summer meetings this week in Portland, Oregon. These are the state officials that approve electricity rates we all pay, as well as the infrastructure investments utilities can make. Given the heightened attention our nation is giving to energy, these meetings have taken on a sense of solemn urgency. Apparent already in the sessions is that there will be no easy answers. Quick recap from Sunday: FERC has a state-by-state assessment of demand response to to Congress in June of 2009. The draft will be out in March with comments due in April. One year later, FERC will develop a national action plan for DR, and by December of 2010 will submit an implementation proposal. NERC is now considering DR as a critical component of reliability. This is a sea change in mentality with real financial consequences. Instead of building a new generator to meet reliability requirements, a utility can count load reductions, a much less costly proposition.