Earlier this week we noted that SEPA was looking for opinions concerning the evolving role of utilities in this increasingly distributed generation world. Right on cue, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released the second paper in a series on grid modernization that tackles the need for improved distribution planning and operations.
In Improving Distribution System Planning to Incorporate Distributed Energy Resources, SEIA reviews the current utility distribution planning process and highlights how two leading states, California and New York, are attempting to modernize their systems to leverage the vast capabilities of distributed energy resources.
“Grid modernization is a complex topic and through this series we’re hoping to show how every American using electricity today can benefit from smart, proactive planning,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs. “When done correctly, grid modernization can create new opportunities for energy sources like solar, leading to economic benefits for both utility customers and the grid.”
The white paper explores how data transparency is critical to modernizing and improving system planning. The paper also examines the progress of states that are at the forefront of this issue. Here’s a taste:
Through power flow modeling, utilities use data about the equipment on- and configuration of- their distribution system to determine where upgrades are needed for their distribution systems due to load. The same underlying distribution grid data and power flow modeling can be used to identify how much additional distributed generation (or load, such as electric vehicle fast charging) can be interconnected to the utilities’ distribution system. Transparency of these limitations both through hosting capacity maps, and the data underlying these maps, can help reduce interconnection costs and uncertainty for distributed energy resource developers.
— Solar Builder magazine