Increases in solar, storage and other distributed energy technologies pose challenges for electric utilities. In a new white paper, Black & Veatch and the Solar Electric Power Association profile emerging utility planning practices for distributed energy resources (DERs), including demand response technologies and electric vehicles.
Planning for the Distributed Energy Future is based on interviews with leaders at five large U.S. utilities.
“A growing number of utilities recognize that increased DER penetration will significantly affect the grid,” said Robert Brnilovich, vice president of Black & Veatch’s Management Consulting business. “Black & Veatch is working with utilities to rethink their approach to planning. The five-step process outlined in the paper will allow utilities to plan for and act on the growth of distributed technologies.”
The new planning model includes modeling distribution grid impacts of DERs; incorporating regulatory and rate changes into the planning process; and formulating a business strategy toward DER integration, including changes to utility operations and organization structures.
“What we see in the field – and this report confirms – is that utilities need to have a deep understanding not only of new distributed technologies, but of their customers’ evolving interests and expectations. Successful planning involves a fine balance of both,” said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA. “The mix of distributed resources will vary between regions and utilities. The integrated approach in this report can help a broad range of stakeholders unlock the opportunities these technologies offer to develop new products and services that benefit customers and the grid.”