SoCal Edison to invest up to $2.5B to integrate DERs over 5-year span
Southern California Edison (SCE) is preparing to invest as much as and $2.5 billion to modernize its distribution grid to be compatible with distributed resources such as rooftop solar, behind-the-meter storage and electric vehicles, Greentech Media reports.
A good portion of that total, up to $500 million, could be spent on software, cloud computing and applications to provide grid management systems (GMS).
SCE, however, is not looking to spend that money on traditional software platforms, but wants a GMS a “system of systems” that can do things at the edge of its distribution network that previous generations of technology could not do.
The penetration and proliferation of distributed resources is necessitating new approaches to the systems that control utility grids.
The day when utilities managed a one-way power flow, from power plant to meters, are fading fast, and the age of the two-way utility will require control systems that are largely redesigned.
Oncor learned that lesson after it installed a microgrid near Lancaster, Texas, last summer. It found that the control systems were more of a problem than the batteries in the system.
Southern California Edison is trying to get ahead of that problem. In a filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, (CPUC) the utility mapped out how it plans to fully integrate distributed energy resources such as rooftop solar, storage, electric vehicle charging, energy efficiency and demand response. The distribution end of that plan could cost between $1.4 billion to $2.5 billion, most of which would be paid by ratepayers.
More recently, SCE detailed that plan at the DistribuTech show in Orlando. “What this whole presentation is about is trying to help people understand what it’s going to take to move our more centralized control architecture to a more distributed one,” Jeff Gooding, SCE’s principal manager of advanced technology, told the audience.
It will not be cheap or easy. It will essentially require systems that are able to accommodate the growing array of DERs on a grid that is increasingly being built to allow two-way communications between supply and demand resources.
One of the challenges of designing these new systems, Gooding said, will be working out standardization protocols among hardware, communications and software products and services.
“There are certain requirements the vendor community really needs to pay attention to, to allow them to participate in this larger system of systems,” he said.
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