DER Siting and Optimization tool to enable large scale deployment of DER in California

Califonia Vintage Map
Figure 1 – High-level schematic: T&D co-simulation; application program interfaces (APIs); behind-the-meter DER adoption; GIS Vi

Funding: DOE/Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium Call

The high level goal of this 18-month project is to deliver to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) and other relevant stakeholders, an integrated distributed resource planning and optimization platform, hosted online, able to identify meaningful behind-the-meter Distributed Energy Resources (DER) adoption patterns, potential microgrid sites and demand-side resources, and evaluate the impacts of high renewable penetration feeders on the distribution and transmission grid. This project directly links to the Grid Modernization Multi-Year Plan Activity Area of Design and Planning Tools and addresses all three Major Technical Achievements identified by DOE by delivering a software solution to support statewide goals in California to integrate 15 GW of distributed energy resources, including 12 GW of renewable energy on distribution systems. It will allow complementing the existing Distribution Resources Plans (DRP) developed by utilities in California by addressing key issues relevant to Integrating Demand-Side Resources (IDSR). This includes locational aspects, DER operational strategies, thermal benefits of DER and microgrids, and how the collective action of costumers can contribute to optimize demand-side resources, making IDSR more comprehensive than the existing Distribution Resources Plans. While the focus of this project and the results obtained will target the state of California, the methodology developed in this project will be generic so that it can be replicated in other regions and potentially expanded for nationwide implementation.

The Public Utilities Code Section 769 instituted by AB 327 requires the electric utilities in California to file Distribution Resources Plans (DRPs) to “identify optimal locations for the deployment of distributed resources”, defined as “distributed renewable generation sources, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles, and demand response technologies”. The same Code requires CPUC to review each Distribution Resources Plan and approve or “modify any plan as appropriate to minimize overall systems costs and maximize ratepayer benefit from investments in distributed resources”. However, the current DRPs are based on methods that focus on the grid's ability and readiness to cope with new distributed energy resources without necessarily analyzing optimal locations from a customer’s perspective, and do not necessarily take into account optimal DER dispatch strategies both from an economic and environmental standpoint. Some of these issues are being addressed by the CPUC in the form of IDSRs, envisioning pathways to go beyond DRPs and create mechanisms for procuring DERs as alternatives to traditional grid projects and creating new tariffs to reward DERs performing grid-supportive tasks.