Lawmakers and utility regulators in California and New York have been extensively engaged in efforts to modernize the electric distribution grid. This paper draws on the experience of Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) staff in each jurisdiction and explains how these efforts are creating new opportunities for solar power. The paper describes the policy and political landscape in each state and summarizes the ways in which regulators are currently addressing grid modernization. We identify common elements of these efforts, which include: 1) updating utility system planning; 2) identifying alternatives to traditional utility investments; 3) establishing robust cost benefit frameworks; 4) modifying compensation frameworks to drive investments in distributed energy resources (DER), and 5) making utility investments in technologies that bring new functionality to the grid itself. Future papers will drill down into the details of these issues and discuss the pace of change, whether grid modernization efforts are bearing fruit, and obstacles to implementation.