Grid Modernization and Integrating Distributed Energy Resources (DER)
This web page is dedicated to the topic of Grid Modernization and DG Integration in Massachusetts for the purpose of sharing documents with members of the Grid Modernization Working Group (created by DPU Order 12-76). This resource was originally created to accompany DOER comments filed on July 24, 2013.
NOTE: While this resource focuses primarily on Grid Mod and DER integration, various other aspects of Grid Mod have continued to progress. Ultimately, the Grid Mod Working Group Report (2013) and comments from parties culminated into Grid-Facing Utility Plans and the DPU Order on May 10, 2018. For more information on the status of more recent phases of Grid Modernization, such as Customer-Facing and handling of electric vehicles, see the DPU Grid Modernization web page.
DOER plans to add to this website as new updates and developments become available to assist in future stages of the Grid Mod proceeding related to DG Integration, Interconnection, Mapping of Distribution Systems, and exploring new technologies and approaches, such as, microgrids, reverse power flow, automation, and revisiting other existing distribution system limits.
On June 12, 2014, DPU issued Order 12-76-B stating:
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (“IREC”) and DOER proposed mapping and proactive system planning as a means of promoting the integration of distributed resources at sites where interconnection costs may be relatively low or where distributed resources can provide the greatest benefit to the electric distribution system (IREC Comments at 9-10; DOER Reply Comments at 2-3). DOER intends to begin this process with electric distribution companies on a voluntary basis (DOER Reply Comments at 2-3). The Department supports this initiative, and directs the electric distribution companies to participate in the process with DOER.” p.13, FN16
On October 9, 2014, DOER co-hosted a kick-off meeting with IREC and the utilities to begin that mandatory utility participation. The IREC presentation, entitled DER Integration Into System Planning, is available at this link.
On December 18, 2014, DOER and IREC co-hosted the second meeting with utilities addressing DER Integration into System Planning. Links to presentations and materials circulated for this meeting:
The 2006 DG Collaborative Report describes the work of the Distribution Planning Working Group, which identified “Technical Challenges of DER Integration” described in Attachment H of that filing. (June 2006)
The consideration of DG in distribution planning was also addressed in the Massachusetts Distributed Generation Collaborative 2005 Annual Report (page 122).
DPU Order 12-76: Opening the Investigation into Grid Modernization (10/2/12)
The Grid Mod Working Group Report (filed July 2, 2013)
DPU Order 12-76-A responding to the GMWG Report and kicking off a Witness Panel (issued 12/23/13)
DPU Order 13-182 opening an investigation into Electric Vehicles (issued 12/23/13)
See the Governor's Grid Mod press release, stating, "the potential for electric vehicle batteries to back up intermittent sources of power, like wind and solar."
Climate Adaptation: Governor Patrick's announces Climate Change Prep Plan, specifies microgrids and utility vulnerability inventory (1/14/14)
DPU Order 12-76-B (issued 6/12/14)
Order addressing the utility filed Plans (Order; May 10, 2018)
Grid Modernization Materials Supplementing the DOER Grid Modernization Comments (Filed July 24, 2013)
Exploring the imperative of revitalizing America’s electric infrastructure. How a smarter grid works as an enabling engine for our economy, our environment and our future. The referenced web page provides links to further reports that target the interests of stakeholder groups, including policy-makers. Prepared for the U.S. Department of Energy under contract No. DE-AC26-04NT41817. Subtask 560.01.04 (2008-2009)
A Report prepared for DOER with utility peer review and signoff. The development of larger scale (greater than 25 kW, up to several MW) distributed renewable energy resources requires upgrades to electrical distribution lines for interconnection to the utility grid, including access to three phase power lines and other means to smooth out voltages from intermittent resources. The lack of three phase power lines and other interconnection challenges in rural Massachusetts has restricted Distributed Generation (DG) in these rural areas. Meanwhile, rural regions of the Commonwealth have important land and renewable energy resources to contribute to the renewable energy market expansion and to support local businesses and economic development. (April 2013)
July 31, 2013: DOER has released a Rural Electrification Upgrades for Renewable Energy Economic Development Program Opportunity Notice #PON-ENE-2014-003 today on Comm-PASS. This $3 million Program Opportunity Notice is meant to allocate grant funding through a competitive grant process to help support power line upgrades for rural business that can benefit from distributed renewable generation that can otherwise not be economically interconnected. Rural businesses that seek to develop an onsite Renewable Distributed Generation project that requires upgrades to the electric grid to supply or support existing businesses within Massachusetts are eligible to apply. All Program details can be found on Comm-PASS.
DER Integration Materials of the DG Collaborative
A “Guidance Document for Customer Owned Distributed Generation Applications: A Working Draft” was prepared by KEMA Consulting, Inc, based on Distributed Energy Planning Workshops commissioned by the Massachusetts DG Collaborative in 2006 to describe options to accommodate the use of DG in support of the electric distribution system, including “equipment upgrades associated with running customer owned generation that is compatible with the connected utility distribution system.” The Distribution Planning Working Group of The MA DG Collaborative created this Guidance document using a consensus based approach with utility representatives to explain potential challenges and solutions for distributed generation installations that serve the generation owner, particularly in the event of widespread and substantial adoption of such DG. (Fall 2009)
The consideration of DG in distribution planning was also addressed in the Massachusetts Distributed Generation Collaborative 2005 Annual Report (page 122).
DOER was primary program manager for this US-DOE funded multi-state collaboration. It addresses business models to advance the integration of Distributed Energy Resources, including utility ownership of DER.
Other Notable Grid Modernization Studies/Materials
Resilient and reliable power is critical for first responders, communications, healthcare, transportation, financial systems, water and wastewater treatment, emergency food and shelter, and other vital services. When smart technologies are in place, power outages are avoided and lives, homes, and businesses are protected. (2013)
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the Sandia National Laboratories have co-authored a strategy paper on accommodating high levels of distributed generation resources on utility distribution systems. In this concept paper, IREC & Sandia National Laboratories propose an Integrated Distribution Planning (IDP) approach to proactive planning for DG growth. IDP leverages existing tools from distribution system planning to estimate the hosting capacity of distribution circuits in advance of a utility studying a particular interconnection request. IDP also analyzes a circuit’s ability to accommodate anticipated DG growth and identifies any potential infrastructure upgrades needed to accommodate that growth. (May 2013)
Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages from the Executive Office of the President (August 2013)
This report was prepared by the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, with assistance from the White House Office of Science and Technology. This report estimates the annual cost of power outages caused by severe weather between 2003 and 2012 and describes various strategies for modernizing the grid and increasing grid resilience. Over this period, weather-related outages are estimated to have cost the U.S. economy an inflation-adjusted annual average of $18 billion to $33 billion. Annual costs fluctuate significantly and are greatest in the years of major storms such as Hurricane Ike in 2008, a year in which cost estimates range from $40 billion to $75 billion, and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a year in which cost estimates range from $27 billion to $52 billion. A recent Congressional Research Service study estimates the inflation-adjusted cost of weather-related outages at $25 to $70 billion annually (Campbell 2012). The variation in estimates reflects different assumptions and data used in the estimation process. The costs of outages take various forms including lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production, inconvenience and damage to the electric grid. Continued investment in grid modernization and resilience will mitigate these costs over time – saving the economy billions of dollars and reducing the hardship experienced by millions of Americans when extreme weather strikes. (added to this page August 12, 2013)
Additional Recent Studies/Reports/Orders
(added after the DOER filed comments -- most recent posts first)
(added after the DOER filed comments -- most recent posts first)
Clean vehicles as an enabler for a clean electricity grid (May 2018; Jonathan Coignard, Samveg Saxena, Jeffery Greenblatt, and Dai Wang; Published 16 May 2018 • © 2018 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd )
California has issued ambitious targets to decarbonize transportation through the deployment of electric vehicles (EVs), and to decarbonize the electricity grid through the expansion of both renewable generation and energy storage. These parallel efforts can provide an untapped synergistic opportunity for clean transportation to be an enabler for a clean electricity grid. To quantify this potential, we forecast the hourly system-wide balancing problems arising out to 2025 as more renewables are deployed and load continues to grow. We then quantify the system-wide balancing benefits from EVs modulating the charging or discharging of their batteries to mitigate renewable intermittency, without compromising the mobility needs of drivers. Our results show that with its EV deployment target and with only one-way charging control of EVs, California can achieve much of the same benefit of its Storage Mandate for mitigating renewable intermittency, but at a small fraction of the cost. Moreover, EVs provide many times these benefits if two-way charging control becomes widely available. Thus, EVs support the state's renewable integration targets while avoiding much of the tremendous capital investment of stationary storage that can instead be applied towards further deployment of clean vehicles.
MA DOER Electric School Bus Pilot Report (April 2018; MA-DOER/VEIC)
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) initiated a pilot project managed by VEIC to test electric school buses in school transportation operations. The pilot project was a first-of-its-kind deployment of electric school bus technologies in cold weather environments in the United States. Through this project, three electric school buses were deployed at three school districts around the state and bus operations and reliability tracked for approximately one year. The project was designed to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with using electric school buses as a strategy to provide safe, reliable, cost effective school transportation. Electric school buses also present an enormous opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from school transportation, as well as other tailpipe pollutants. Diesel is known to be particularly harmful to both children’s health and the climate. In addition, this project sought to test the potential of electric school buses to interact with the electric grid through the use of vehicle to grid (V2G), as well as interaction with local energy use through vehicle to building (V2B) technology. Vehicle-to-grid interaction can reduce electric school bus costs through financial paybacks to school districts for bus-provided grid services, and strengthen the resiliency of local energy systems.
Customer-Centric Energy Transformation (Rocky Mountain Institute; April 2018)
The U.S. electricity industry needs new business models to complete the transformation to an affordable, reliable, low-carbon energy system. New models that transition away from traditional cost-of-service regulation can empower customers to take control of their energy use, make the system more efficient and resilient, and support investment in a modern grid. Green Mountain Power (GMP), an investor-owned utility in Vermont, is leading the way with innovative customer offerings and business model transformation. It is the only utility named to Fast Company’s top 10 most innovative companies in energy. Beginning in early 2017, Rocky Mountain Institute worked with Green Mountain Power to assess how it can advance energy system transformation by building on the utility’s portfolio of innovative customer programs and evolving toward a new business model. Our new report, Customer-Centric Energy Transformation, presents our assessment of GMP’s imperative for transformation, a review of its progress so far, and recommendations for additional steps to expand the scope and reach of its customer programs. [Includes details about Vehicle to Grid and solar hosting maps.]
Grid-Connected Distributed Generation: Compensation Mechanism Basics (NREL; October 2017)
A well-designed compensation mechanism can help minimize the negative impacts and maximize the value of distributed generation (DG) to all stakeholder groups, including distribution utilities, the system owner, and other ratepayers. This paper, published by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, details the three possible arrangements for metering and billing of DG: net energy metering, “buy all, sell all” arrangements, and net billing. Different compensation mechanisms have been tested in different country contexts, revealing useful lessons for utilities, regulators, and policymakers. Because the distinctions and design elements of different metering and billing arrangements can be easily misunderstood, the paper aims to clarify the options available to stakeholders interested in using compensation mechanisms to facilitate DG deployment around the world.
Charging Ahead: Energy Storage Guide for State Policymakers (IREC; April 2017)
IREC issued a report, Charging Ahead: An Energy Storage Guide for State Policymakers,” at the Energy Storage Association's 2017 annual meeting. The guide offers regulators and other decision makers specific guidance on key issues for policy consideration, including foundational policies for advanced energy storage; a new generation of technologies characterized by flexible operating capabilities and diverse applications.
Vermont Solar Market Pathways (SunShot Initiative / US-DOE; December 2016)
This Summary Report for the Vermont Solar Market Pathways project includes descriptions of the GMP Solar Map to help developers avoid expensive interconnections. The report is the product of two years of stakeholder engagement, data gathering, and analysis, the specific aims of which are to answer the question: What does it take to advance a state’s solar economy sufficiently to meet one of the nation’s most ambitious energy goals?The project’s data gathering, research, and analysis depended on comprehensive stakeholder engagement, described throughout this report. With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), this work supports the objectives of the Solar Market Pathways program of DOE's SunShot Initiative. In particular, it informs current and future efforts in demonstrating the increasing affordability and advisability of solar energy from the perspective of policy makers.
State of Charge: Energy Storage Initiative Study (MA-DOER; September 2016)
DOER partnered with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to develop State of Charge; Energy Storage Initiative Study, a comprehensive Energy Storage Study, with key findings, including (a) ratepayer cost benefits of energy storage associated with reduced peak demand, deferred transmission and distribution investments, reduced GHG emissions, reduced cost of renewables integration, deferred new capacity investments, and increased grid flexibility reliability and resiliency; (b) identification and economic evaluation of energy storage use cases; (c) identification of current barriers to energy storage adoption in the Commonwealth; (d) policy and program recommendations to properly value energy storage; (e) near and long term economic and workforce benefits to Massachusetts by implementing energy storage.
Analysts project that Distributed PV (DPV) will continue growing rapidly across the United States. This growth has critical implications for utility planning processes, potentially affecting the size and type of future infrastructure needs as well as the solution set for meeting those needs. Developing appropriate techniques for incorporating DPV's unique characteristics into utility planning processes-across generation, transmission, and distribution-is therefore essential to ensuring reliable operation of the electric system at least cost.
The Essential Reliability Services Task Force Measures Framework Report helps industry understand and prepare for the change in resource mix, which includes the increased use of variable energy resources, the retirement of conventional generating units, advances in distributed energy resources and other changes to traditional generation resources.
FERC staff's latest annual report assessing demand response and advanced metering based upon data provided by ISOs, RTOs and their market monitors.
This report is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff’s (FERC or Commission staff’s) tenth annual report on demand response and advanced metering required by section 1252(e)(3) of Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005). It is based on publicly-available information and discussions with market participants and industry experts. Based on the information reviewed, it appears that:
• Deployment of advanced meters continues to increase throughout the country.
• According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), an additional 8.7 million advanced meters were installed and operational between 2012 and 2013, resulting in advanced meters representing almost 38 percent of all meters in the United States;
• States and various federal agencies continue to undertake significant activities to promote demand response; • Supported by new policy efforts at the retail level, demand response in conjunction with other established and developing resources and technologies is facilitating innovative grid architectures and system operations; and,
• While demand response barriers continue to be addressed, there is jurisdictional uncertainty associated with the Supreme Court’s review of Electric Power Supply Association v. FERC.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: Abstract— The conceptual framework of the “Smart Grid” naturally takes the viewpoint of the grid, then works down into the details of its individual components. This is good and necessary, but there is an alternative approach that can complement and strengthen the “macrogrid” — to start from (very) small “nanogrids”. Nanogrids can be interconnected and aggregated into microgrids, and ultimately, through the meter, to the macrogrid. Nanogrids are already common today, in the form of USB-powered devices off a PC, Power over Ethernet distribution systems, and the electricity systems in cars and other vehicles. In addition, an increasing number of developing nation households have a nanogrid with local generation and battery storage. This paper defines nanogrids, delves into their existing and potential characteristics, and proposes some principles for standard interfaces between nanogrids and with microgrids.
From the Report: Hurricane Sandy had significant impacts on the state of New Jersey, leaving millions without power over the course of a two-week period. The number of applicants requesting energy generation systems through the HGMP indicates a need for backup energy generation to increase resiliency throughout the state. A questionnaire conducted as part of this assessment reviewed the energy needs of critical infrastructure, and identified state-wide opportunities for more resilient distributed generation systems that can operate in parallel with the grid during normal operation and isolate (island) critical facilities with on-site energy generation during grid outages.
Widespread use of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) can greatly reduce transportation energy costs and pollution. The State’s Comprehensive Energy Plan has established a goal of powering 25% of vehicles with renewable energy sources by 2030. A shift from fossil fuels to the electric grid as the primary supplier of energy for transportation will pose new challenges for utility providers with regards to peak power management but also new opportunities that, if properly managed, could result in net benefits to the grid.
The Hawaii PUC issued a white paper, entitled, Commission’s Inclinations on the Future of Hawaii’s Electric Utilities (5/21/14) in concert with three Orders addressing integrated resource planning. The Orders opened dockets for (1) a Distributed Generation Interconnection Plan, (2) a Power Supply Improvement Plan, and (3) guidance on a consolidated portfolio for demand response which could reduce unnecessary curtailments of wind generation. Some of the new mandates are consistent with a Final Report of the Reliability Standards Working Group (3/17/13), which made recommendations for integrating distributed resources into system planning.
"This report proposes a platform to transform New York's electric industry, for both regulated and non-regulated participants, with the objective of creating market based, sustainable products and services that drive an increasingly efficient, clean, reliable, and consumer-oriented industry. One key outcome of the transformation is to address the Commission‟s stated objective to make energy efficiency and other distributed resources a primary tool in the planning and operation of an interconnected modernized power grid." See also the NYT article about the Report: State Energy Plan Would Alter New York Utilities (5/4/14)
(September 30, 2013)
Prepared by Microgrid Institute for the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Report includes multiple case studies describing interconnections with microgrids.
Guide to Using Combined Heat and Power for Enhancing Reliability and Resiliency in Buildings September 2013 (US DOE, HUD and EPA)
This guidance is divided into seven sections that discuss:
1. The policy context for CHP, including in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy;
2. CHP in State and local resiliency planning efforts;
3. CHP basics and benefits;
4. The opportunities for CHP to contribute to reliability;
5. Factors for determining whether CHP is an appropriate choice for multifamily housing and critical facilities and steps in the CHP project development process;
6. Options for financing CHP; and
7. Additional resources that provide more detailed information.
US Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change (DOE – July 2013)
U.S. ENERGY SECTOR VULNERABILITIES TO CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME WEATHER
This report—part of the Administration’s efforts to support national climate change adaptation planning through the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force and Strategic Sustainability Planning process established under Executive Order 13514 and to advance the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of promoting energy security—examines current and potential future impacts of these climate trends on the U.S. energy sector. Report updated July 16, 2013.
There are currently a range of generous MA incentives available to health care facilities interested in installing CHP technologies that can lower investment paybacks to as little as four years. Given these available incentives, and an increased recent interest by hospitals in both improving their environmental footprint and increasing facility resilience, CHP is becoming an attractive option for health care facilities of all types and sizes. This report was produced for the Boston Green Ribbon Commission and Health Care Without Harm by Meister Consultants Group, Inc. and was made possible thanks to support from the Barr Foundation.
As the state continues to recover from damage done by recent storms, Northeast Utilities called upon the resources of UConn’s School of Business SS&C Technologies Financial Accelerator and the School of Engineering to study and analyze “selective hardening” options for strengthening the infrastructure of utilities throughout the state. Three viable options were identified to harden the power supply and mitigate damage from storms: microgrid, underground, and emergency generators. Recommendations are forming the basis of discussions with key stakeholders including Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). ”It will take time for implementation, but the results and findings of this project will be heavily used,” says Dr. Chinmoy Ghosh, Head of the Finance Department and Executive Director of the SS&C Technologies Financial Accelerator and Student Managed Fund.
As cities and states seek to improve the resilience, reliability, and efficiency of the electric grid in the face of increasingly severe storms and other emerging threats, microgrids offer policy makers, elected leaders and the communities they serve an additional tool with which to address these challenges. In addition to improving grid resilience, well-designed microgrids have the potential to increase deployment of low and no carbon energy generation sources, reduce energy costs for microgrid participants, provide other valuable services to the macrogrid and increase demand for Massachusetts based clean energy and “grid edge” technology developers. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) commissioned this study to better understand the attributes, benefits, business development models and barriers to microgrid deployment here in the Commonwealth.
ENE’s (Environment Northeast's) EnergyVision sets forth important steps on four parallel tracks to create an energy system that is safer, cleaner and more affordable and offers the promise of deep reductions in GHG. With further efforts to transition electricity generation to renewable resources, emissions would continue to fall. Dramatic changes to our power grid, more decentralized and community energy approaches and redoubled efforts to maximize energy efficiency are needed to make this vision real.
The Perfect Power Institute™ explores the cost and benefits for grid modernization in the white paper “Investing in Grid Modernization: The Business Case for Empowering Consumers, Communities and Utilities.” The comprehensive calculations and analysis outlined in this white paper estimate the potential benefits of investments to significantly outweigh the costs. Furthermore, the paper argues that even higher estimated benefits should be considered if the impact on public health, safety and security could be precisely quantified and included. The Institutes outlines how these investments improve the grid by eliminating waste, reducing costs, reducing interruptions and improving societal and economic conditions.
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