Distributed energy technologies are becoming more important in the state’s energy resource plans. Over the past decade, nearly 60 GW of DER capacity have been installed by customers to control their energy costs. Today, these systems can be consolidated to provide resiliency services to utilities by providing energy back to the grid, supporting the grid through ancillary services, or “islanding” in case of natural disasters. Combustion turbines can operate twenty-four hours a day, while solar photovoltaics can provide a resource during the daytime. Each distributed technology has its own unique set of operating parameters or conditions. So how do these diverse sets of resources come together and perform these services to the grid?
Programs are underway at utilities to harness this capability through the development of Distributed Energy Resources Management Systems. DERMS will use a software platform to monitor and coordinate these energy sources. Their first step is to enroll these energy sources into an aggregation program. Typically, utilities will have data about the generation technologies located behind the meter, as there is a formal interconnection process. However, a common element of all programs is that customers do not like lengthy application processes or having to re-enter the same data multiple times. The enrollment process can be streamlined by accessing customer data that currently resides in other utility systems. Another customer’s peeve is not knowing where their application stands in the approval process. The enrollment system can have customer portals so they may gain insight as to where their project stands.
Controlling and coordinating these diverse resources takes time and effort, yet the enrollment process does not need to be complicated or difficult. eTRACK+ can easily step in and provide this function. eTRACK+ is a low code solution that can be configured from the ground up based on customer requirements. Project data can easily be moved from eTRACK+ back to other utility systems as needed. Additionally, eTRACK+ can be set up with a customer/contractor-facing web page that can be branded to meet the utility requirements. As the energy transition moves forward, keeping things simple for customers will be key to increased market penetration of DERs.
Written by – Michael Stockard
Michael Stockard is an independent consultant at Stockard Energy Advising and is a member of the Advisory Panel at ANB Systems. Michael has over 40 years of experience in the design and implementation of demand-side management programs.