ORIGINAL REPORTING: State Regulators Aim Planning At Integrating All Kinds Of New Energy
The best laid plans of state regulators are now aimed at building a better distribution system; States are beginning to see distribution system planning as protection from disruption
Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 30, 2018 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Planning continues to search for ways to integrate large-scale and customer-owned New Energy
How many roads must distribution system planning walk down, before it fully values distributed energy resources? The answer is not blowing in the wind but is elusive, according to a new report from Department of Energy researchers. There is a wide variety of distribution system planning in states that have adopted “advanced elements of integrated distribution system planning and analysis.” And an even “broader array” of approaches in states with more traditional planning methods. Existing planning tools and procedures “are not adequate” to deal with rising penetrations of distributed energy resources (DER), according to Pacific Northwest National Laboratories Senior Energy Analyst and report lead author Juliet Homer.
Methods to accurately and dynamically forecast how quickly DER penetrations will increase and what their impacts will be on the distribution system are lacking. But what would be considered adequate among the many approaches to distribution system planning depends on each state's unique drivers and goals, Homer told Utility Dive. Only New York, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan directly engage in comprehensive five-year to ten-year planning, the report says. Others have adopted some longer-term but more limited planning requirements for regulated utilities or are considering doing so. In those states, planners are working through policy and markets to grow DER and optimize its value for customers and the system. They have begun thinking about using planning to assess locational value of DER, using them as non-wires solutions to distribution system expenditures, and finding opportunities to introduce emerging technologies like electric vehicles and battery storage… click here for more
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