All across the DER value chain, stakeholders are working to accelerate DER deployments in a cost-effective manner that builds the foundation for the future. The solar systems, storage and other DER systems deployed today will remain in service for years to come. Monitoring, forecasting and control of these systems will be essential for success for utilities and system owners. Seamless data exchange between the existing IT systems, new smart inverters, and new DER management systems is a critical success factor for the future of DER.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the number of solar installations will triple to over 3 million systems between 2016 and 2019. Supporting this growth rate and the increased penetration of solar and other DER systems requires that utilities build a master data set of these systems.
Interconnection is an opportunity – capitalize on it
Historically, the interconnection process has been viewed as a required activity that the utility merely needed to meet the PSC requirements. In reality, it represents an opportunity to improve the customer experience, build the foundation for DER operations and maintenance and remove barriers to the associated economic and environmental benefits that are possible with DER. Leveraging interconnection applications to build this single source of truth for customer owned DER information via on-line applications and workflow management solutions can deliver a win-win for all of the players in the value chain. A common information model and open data standards could help maximize the benefits by:
- Enabling seamless sharing of system data between owners, utilities, inverter manufacturers and other members of the value chain
- Reducing the effort to support system integrations between key utility IT and OT systems including; WMS, GIS, CIS, power flow tool, ADMS, DERMs, and EMS
- Reducing cycle times and soft costs by enabling automated pre-application DER reports and technical review calculations
- Enhancing distribution planning efforts by providing the system performance and locational data necessary to incorporate DER into grid infrastructure planning
- Lowering energy purchasing costs by increasing the accuracy of DER energy forecasting and making that data part of the utility dispatched resources
- Opening new revenue streams for system owners as utilities become more comfortable with managing DER operational characteristics to control customer smart inverters to better manage power quality on the utility distribution network
Moving towards seamless data sharing
Industry efforts led by SGIP, EPRI, Duke Energy’s Coalition of the Willing and others support the development and adoption of open data standards for data exchange from DER interconnection application to DER decommissioning. Leveraging these efforts will deliver real benefits to consumers, DER vendors, third party DER operations, and utilities. The first step for many utilities is moving the interconnection process on-line and capturing the customer DER information. This delivers real benefits in the near term while building the foundation for operational and planning benefits as DER deployment volumes increase. Choosing an approach that will evolve to support upcoming industry standards is essential. West Monroe Partners is committed to delivering solutions and services for utilities and other stakeholders that do just that.
Click here to learn more about West Monroe Partner’s ConnectTheGrid, a SaaS product that helps utilities manage all of their new connection applications – distributed energy resources interconnections, electrical connections, gas connections and water connections – from application to system operation.