ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utilities Respond To Customer Demand For Distributed Energy
A 'turning point' for DERs? Utilities, vendors praise new NARUC rate design manual; A new guide to DER rate design and compensation lays out the important questions but leaves the heavy lifting to state commissions
Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 17, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: For utilities, where change is notoriously deliberate, the move toward DER continues to be lightening fast.
Distributed energy resources remain a small part of most utilities' fuel mixes, but that could be transformed by a new manual about how utilities can use them. A key obstacle to the adoption of DER is the lack of utility consensus on how to seize the opportunity. If electric utility regulators follow the recommendations for how to design rates and compensate distributed energy resources (DER), utilities and DER providers could together transform these new technologies from solely customer-serving resources into providers of services to the larger grid.
Like the precise definition of DER, numbers for their penetration are difficult to pin down. There were less than 18 GW of distributed solar generation in the 1,100-plus GW U.S. generation portfolio at the end of August 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Aggregated Demand Response, often considered another DER, provided the seven leading U.S. grid operators just under 31 GW of peak demand reductions in 2015, according to GTM Research. Combined heat and power and fuel cells provided 63 GW in 2016 and are expected to reach 95 GW in 2026. And battery energy storage, at 226 MW and less than 1 GWh at the end of 2015, could be over 2 GW and over 5 GWH by 2021, GTM Research also reported… click here for more
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