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Q2 sees SEPA Research expanding with new content from Smart Grid Interoperability Panel and other new partnerships

One result of the recent merger of the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) will be an expansion of SEPA research to include SGIP content.

Specifically, SEPA’s in-depth grid modernization research will be combined with SGIP’s technical recommendations for integrating distributed energy resources (DERs) on the grid.

SEPA and SGIP have a unified vision — to provide a single source for information and collaboration for utilities and DER providers working toward our country’s smart transition to clean energy. We look forward to delivering on that goal over the coming year.

This quarter, however, our research remains rooted in SEPA’s expanding areas of expertise, with topics ranging from solar to electric vehicles, and from the latest thinking on rate design to interconnection best practices. We are also releasing new additions to SEPA’s 51st State Perspectives, Beyond the Meter and Member Brief series, and continuing work with new and existing research partners.

This quarter we will be co-releasing “Recommended Reading for a Modern Grid,” our first collaborative effort with the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Advanced Energy Economy (AEE). The report expands on a very popular recent blog post. Further, we will release more research with long-time SEPA partners, ScottMadden and Black & Veatch.

As our research content expands, we are retooling the Utility Solar Database as well, with a focus on improving the database and making it more interactive. Later this quarter, we will announce an upgraded graphic export feature that allows users to chart utility-specific capacity deployment trends.

 

Reports
Utilities & Electric Vehicles: The case for managed charging

Electric vehicles (EVs) are quickly becoming one of the largest flexible loads on the grid in certain parts of the United States. While most industry analysts see EVs as a boon for utilities, load management risks could be an issue. Managed charging allows a utility or third-party to remotely control vehicle charging by turning it up, down, or even off to better correspond to the needs of the grid, much like traditional demand response programs. This research report provides a wide-lens overview of the managed charging ecosystem, including examples of utility programs, a list of vehicle-grid integration and connected-car platform providers, a list of compatible electric vehicle supply equipment, and examples of automotive industry activities.

 

Beyond the Meter: Planning the Distributed Energy Future, Volume II: A case study of integrated DER planning in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District

This follow-up report to the first volume, “Planning the Distributed Energy Future, Volume I: Emerging electric utility distribution planning practices for distributed energy resources,” with Black & Veatch, will provide a case study of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and highlight how it performed an integrated DER bulk and distribution system analysis using source customer data. With better predictive abilities around DER adoption in its service territory, SMUD can potentially guide DER where it has highest locational value on the grid, resulting in better-informed infrastructure investment decisions and system planning. SMUD commissioned Black & Veatch to do the study, and this paper is the first full and publicly available report on the study findings.

 

Rate Change Communications: An opportunity for a positive customer experience

As most utilities know from first-hand experience, communicating about rate changes in a way that resonates with customers and maintains positive perceptions of the utility’s brand can be a daunting challenge. To help utilities navigate these sensitive communications challenges, SEPA and E Source partnered on a Residential Solar Rates & Net Metering Communication Working Group for U.S. and Canadian utilities. This report will share some of the key insights and market research-based best practices from the 2016 working group.

 

Recommended reading for a modern grid

The result of our first partnership with RMI and AEE, this paper will expand on a February blog post to recommend key readings and resources that can help a range of energy industry stakeholders navigate the myriad of capabilities and grid services DERs can provide, and their value to the both the wholesale and distribution grid.

 

51st State Perspectives: Illinois

Following up on our inaugural 51st State Perspectives paper looking at energy market reform in California and New York, the next state we will cover in the series is Illinois. The midwestern state was ranked No. 2 for grid modernization on the GridWise Alliance’s Grid Modernization Index. Written in conjunction with ScottMadden, this report will discuss how key activities in Illinois represent integral pieces of an overall grid modernization strategy for electricity market reform and transformation. In particular, it will examine the approach Illinois is taking to changes in retail and wholesale market design, utility business models, rates and regulations, and IT and asset deployment.

 

Member Briefs
Low-Income Solar 2.0: Serving All… Saving Money?

Low-income solar programs are going through something of a renaissance. Lower solar costs and new design ideas have brought fresh energy to expand the participation and benefits in this  important market segment. This member brief explores the various low-income solar program models and how these new business models offer different and more flexible program design options, particularly through community solar.

 

Will We Still be Streamlining Interconnection 10 Years From Now?

On one end of the spectrum, some utilities are interconnecting thousands of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems per month with ease. On the other end, some utilities may connect only a few per year.  However, as solar costs have declined, the number of installations of residential solar — and where these panels are located — is increasing significantly. This member brief, written in conjunction with Hoffman Power Consulting, will explore utilities’ best practices for interconnecting ever-increasing numbers of PV systems, and how utilities in developing solar markets can adopt them for their own local conditions.

 

Erika H. Myers is SEPA’s Director of Research. She can be reached at emyers@sepapower.org.

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