Electric utilities are facing a variety of challenges because of rising amounts of solar, storage and other distributed energy technologies on their systems. In response, some of them are speeding their integration planning efforts. That is the finding of a new paper from Black & Veatch and the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).
The “Planning for the Distributed Energy Future” white paper (which you can view here) is based on interviews with leaders at five large U.S. utilities. It profiles emerging utility planning practices for distributed energy resources (DERs). These resources include demand response technologies and electric vehicles.
“A growing number of utilities recognize that increased DER penetration will significantly affect the grid,” said Robert Brnilovich, Vice President of Black & Veatch’s Management Consulting business. “Black & Veatch is working with utilities to rethink their approach to planning. The five-step process outlined in the paper will allow utilities to plan for and act on the growth of distributed technologies.”
The new planning model involves:
• Modeling distribution grid impacts of DERs
• Incorporating regulatory and rate changes into the planning process
• Formulating a business strategy toward DER integration—including any changes to utility operations and organizational structures
“What we see in the field – and this report confirms – is that utilities need to have a deep understanding not only of new distributed technologies, but of their customers’ evolving interests and expectations. Successful planning involves a fine balance of both,” said Julia Hamm, President and CEO of SEPA. “The mix of distributed resources will vary between regions and utilities. The integrated approach in this report can help a broad range of stakeholders unlock the opportunities these technologies offer to develop new products and services that benefit customers and the grid.”
The paper finds that proactive planning has benefits for utilities facing increased DER penetration. It can enable electric utilities to streamline DER deployment and maintain high reliability. They may also be able to take advantage of new opportunities tied to market change.
If you missed the link the report earlier and don’t feel like scrolling, here it is again.
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