ORIGINAL REPORTING: Flexible New Energy Is The Key To The Energy Transition
A total mindshift': Utilities replace gas peakers, 'old school' demand response with flexible DERs; Utility-customer cooperation can balance renewables' variability with flexibility without using "blunt" demand response or natural gas.
Herman K. Trabish, March 8, 2021 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: This is about the still-emerging fight to get natural gas out of the resource mix while protecting reliability.
Utilities and their customers are learning how their cooperation can provide mutual benefits by using the flexibility of distributed energy resources (DER) to cost-effectively balance the dynamics of the new power system.
The future is in utilities investing in technologies to manage the growth of customer-owned DER and customers offering their DER as grid services, advocates for utilities and DER told a Jan. 25-28 conference on load flexibility strategies. And there is an emerging pattern of cooperation between utilities and customers based on the shared value they can obtain from reduced peak demand and system infrastructure costs, speakers said.
"The utility of the future will use flexible DER to manage system peak, bid into wholesale markets, and defer distribution system upgrades," said Seth Frader-Thompson, president of leading DER management services provider EnergyHub. "The challenge is in providing the right incentives to utilities for using DER flexibility and adequate compensation to customers for building it."
Customers need to know the investments will pay off, according to flexibility advocates. And utilities must overcome longstanding distrust of DER reliability to take on the investments needed to grow and manage things like distributed solar and storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging, they added.
"It will require a total mind shift by utilities away from old school demand response," said Enbala Vice President of Industry Solutions Eric Young. "Many utility executives have never envisioned a system where thousands of assets can be controlled fast enough to ensure they get the needed response."
Customer demand for DER and utilities' need for flexibility to manage their increasingly variable load and supply are rapidly driving utilities toward cooperation, conference representatives for both agreed. And though technology, policy and market entry barriers remain, an understanding of how new technologies make flexible resources reliable and cost-effective is emerging… click here for more