The “grid of the future” is no longer a distant goal; it is upon us today with the adoption of innovative tools, technologies and resources that facilitate the transition to a cleaner, consumer-driven electric grid.
A new in-depth guide released by IREC will help states manage the grid redesign with new analytical tools and the benefit of lessons learned from states leading the way.
More Americans are choosing increasingly economical and available distributed energy resources (DERs) — such as rooftop or community solar, energy storage and electric vehicles – and these DERs create new opportunities and challenges as they are integrated into the traditional electric system.
Optimizing the Grid: A Regulator’s Guide to Hosting Capacity Analyses for Distributed Energy Resources helps guide state regulators as they oversee utilities developing hosting capacity analyses to integrate DERs on their distribution systems. Hosting capacity analyses are a new analytical tool — as part of broader grid modernization or distribution planning efforts — that can help states and utilities plan for and build a modern grid that allows for the benefits of DERs to be fully realized by more individuals, businesses and institutions.
“With consumers motivated by economic, environmental and resilience objectives, distributed energy resources are no longer small asterisks at the edge of the electricity grid (or the economy),” says IREC’s Sara Baldwin Auck. “Rather than simply ‘tolerating’ DERs, there is an opportunity to utilize this new tool — hosting capacity analysis – to proactively integrate them into grid planning, operations and long-term investment decisions.”
The term “hosting capacity” refers to the amount of distributed energy resources that can be accommodated on the distribution system at a given time and at a given location, under existing grid conditions and operations, without adversely impacting grid safety or reliability and without requiring significant infrastructure upgrades.
“Hosting capacity analyses allow utilities, regulators and electricity customers to make more efficient and cost-effective choices about where, when and how to deploy distributed energy resources on the grid,” explains lead author of the new Sky Stanfield, lead author and regulatory attorney representing IREC. “If adopted with intention, this analytical tool may also function as a bridge to span information gaps between developers, customers and utilities, enabling more productive grid interactions and more economical grid solutions.”
Insights and recommendations included in Optimizing the Grid: A Regulator’s Guide to Hosting Capacity Analyses for Distributed Energy Resources:
- Key process considerations for hosting capacity analyses efforts overseen by utility regulators, including effective regulatory stakeholder engagement strategies.
- Lessons learned from hosting capacity analyses efforts in California, New York, Hawaii and Minnesota.
- Principal use cases for hosting capacity analyses and considerations to ensure they are designed to address and achieve identified goals, including state energy policy goals.
- Principal categories of analytical methodologies, with an overview of the differences and tradeoffs between methodologies.
- Key considerations for regulators when guiding and overseeing the implementation of hosting capacity analyses, including evaluation and selection of a well-considered methodology based upon its intended use.
- Factors relevant to evaluate the performance of hosting capacity analyses, relative to identified goals, including how to validate results to improve accuracy and functionality over time.
- Strategies for implementing an effective stakeholder engagement process to help guide the development of a hosting capacity analysis that is useful to a wide range of customers.
News item from IREC