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Providing data standards to automate interconnection of distributed energy resources

Soon after the release of the Orange Button data standard, an open-source classification system for solar project data, Clean Power Research is targeting use of Orange Button to provide electric utilities with an updated list of approved equipment that complies with revised requirements under California’s Rule 21 tariff for customer-sited solar and energy storage systems. By standardizing the way the list of approved modules and inverters is consumed, Clean Power Research will help utilities more easily support their interconnection processes without having to spend time and money on custom data integrations. This is just one example of how Clean Power Research, an early adopter of Orange Button, is using the data standard to add value for its utility customers.

Orange Button fits neatly within the approach of Clean Power Research’s software service group, whose goal is to provide flexible solutions to utilities without adding new costs as technologies change, and new use cases and regulations arise. Utilities will be able to access Orange Button data through Clean Power Research’s three product families to improve management of DER-to-grid integration processes. This includes streamlining interconnection processing, improving fleet-level resource planning and operations, and providing new utility services based on distributed energy resource deployment and changes in customer behavior.

Clean Power Research’s initial use case for Orange Button data is assisting with Rule 21 compliance, because of a July 2018 deadline to transition grid-tied inverters from reactive power priority to real power priority. Though the immediate benefit is principally for California investor-owned utilities, the data can be made available to utilities around the country as other states adopt similar smart grid requirements.

Clean Power Research is investigating additional ways it can apply the same benefits of data standards to other aspects of the DER-to-grid integration process. For example, utilities that integrate its PowerClerk software with other software applications, such as customer information systems, already ensure accuracy of their data by linking redundant pieces of information, such as customer contact and account number. For example, an applicant applying for interconnection might only be required to enter a utility account number, with other contact information such as name and address automatically populating web-hosted forms and documents.

In applying the Orange Button data standard, the utility would be able to link other software applications without the additional cost of custom development. This would make their systems more modular and adaptable to new use cases. This is important as other pieces of information, such as interconnection status, system capacity and system location can be used to better operate the grid. In this example, a data standard for information important to forecasting PV power output can accelerate to market solutions for the utility to manage variability in distributed generation.

Skip Dise, the vice president of product management at Clean Power Research, is leading Orange Button development out of the company’s Kirkland, Wash., office. He presented on interconnection processing and operational use cases for utilities at the 2018 Orange Button Developers Conference hosted by SunSpec Alliance.

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