Solar energy additions require distribution system redesign

Southern California Edison (NYSE: EIX) is redesigning its power distribution system to accommodate larger amounts of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation.

These distribution circuits have been one-way routes for electricity channeled from neighborhood substations to some 1,200 nearby homes and businesses each. Components built into these power paths compensate for the natural drop-off in voltage, helping customers at the end of a circuit receive the same voltage supply as the one nearest the substation.

SCE has begun connecting multimillion-watt solar power stations to the middle of such circuits. To support this distributed renewable generation, the utility's grid engineers have launched what the utility said is the first major redesign of this aspect of the traditional power delivery system.SCE said engineers at its inverter testing program at its Pomona, Calif. laboratory collect and analyze data to determine how best to enable the safe and effective deployment of inverters.

The utility said it will share lessons learned from its grid redesign with other utilities and the solar industry.

SCE said it also has connected four new 7 MW (AC) PV plants to its grid, bringing the utility's community solar network to 15 stations.

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