- Consolidated Edison on Friday rolled out a new program designed to make it easier for customers to adopt distributed energy resources (DERs), by providing a device that simplifies the interconnection of solar panels or an electric vehicle charger.
- The utility will provide the ConnectDER device at no charge, while granular data provided by the device about energy customers' consumption and production will help Con Ed with grid planning and incorporating new resources.
- The devices will allow Con Ed to better understand what is going on inside the home, including disaggregating the contribution of distributed solar generation. Currently, Con Ed's advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) only captures a home's net load.
If Con Edison's partnership with ConnectDER looks a lot like a a residential "make ready" program, it's because that's how the device has been used before: helping to avoid expensive repairs and connection points inside California homes.
"The concept was to be an exterior point of interconnection," Jim Skillman, manager of distributed generation for Con Edison, told Utility Dive. But in New York, the utility is using the devices a bit differently: "Part of it is a nice, easy connection, and part of it is the utility getting smarter "
Con Edison currently has about 110 of the devices installed as part of a 300-home pilot on Staten Island, and the utility recently purchased 500 more for broader deployment. Once installed into homes with either an EV, solar panels or both, the utility will have access to significantly more data about those resources.
"AMI does give you net load, but it doesn't give you DER production," Josh Gould, department manager for Con Edison's Utility of the Future group, told Utility Dive. With the ConnectDER devices, "we can solve the entire equation. ... In addition to facilitating better and faster customer-sited resources, for us, it produces greater visibility on actual DER production."
Solar panels or a vehicle charger plug into the electric meter, which is connected to the device by a collar that installs between a residential electric meter and a meter socket, according to the company. ConnectDER then reduces costs by "removing some balance of system components and premises wiring upgrades," while minimizing logistical issues and site inspection time.
The device can help customers avoid the need to upgrade the home's circuit breaker panel, which Con Edison estimated can save up to $2,500. And a 2017 ConnectDER pilot showed average savings per-home of around $500, and sometimes much higher.
"For Con Edison, not only do we maintain that touch point with the customer, but we also get all of that data back for grid planning," said Skillman, along with "knowing everything on the grid is working smoothly."