- Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Sr. R&D VP Arshad Mansoor and Duke Energy Chief Integration/Innovation Officer Lee Mazzocchi opened EPRI’s Smart Distribution and Power Quality 2014 Conference by offering solutions to utilities going through what Mansoor called “the most sweeping changes in 120 years.”
- Mazzocchi said utilities will have to focus on the key challenges facing today’s grid: Avoiding the “cool factor,” and choosing new distributed energy resources and energy control and distribution technologies that offer customers reliable power and profits for utilities.
- Mansoor said interactive grid technologies that give utilities control of residential power use during peak demand periods allow them to avoid the big costs of expensive plant construction. They also encourage customers to develop distributed generation by offering benefits from multi-source power transactions.
Mazzocchi said solar is now a mature industry with well understood benefits. Because of new low prices allowing utilities to take advantage of it, Duke is moving to own solar production rather than buying from independent solar developers.
Storage technology and data analytics are still early in what Mazzocchi called “the hype curve,” and not yet scalable because their benefits are far from their promise.
Mansoor said power transmission and distribution systems are moving toward data analytics and smart devices, but the communications and information technology on which they rely on have shorter “payback periods” and “shelf life” than generation and grid infrastructure. This skews long-term investment calculations and potentially compromises system long-term investment flexibility.
Both Mazzocchi and Mansoor called for a new regulatory framework and a business model capable of adapting to the increasing pace of change.
Mansoor added that California installed solar capacity took 20 years to get to one gigawatt and one year to get to two gigawatts.