- Southern California Edison (SCE) will partner with SolarCity, the leading U.S. residential solar installer, and SunSpec Alliance, the solar industry’s interoperability standards organization, on a pilot project to study aggregated distributed energy resources (DERs) in SCE territory.
- Funded by a $2 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) and $2 million contributed by SolarCity and other participating technology vendors, the pilot will study 50 homes equipped with solar, storage, controllable thermostats, and smart inverters.
- The objective of the study is to determine the degree to which aggregated DERs can offer reliability benefits to the grid and electricity markets run by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).
Setting up a market for aggregated DERs on the distribution grid is difficult because the value of each of the individual resources is unclear, according to participants in the grid decentralization panel at the ARPA-E conference earlier this year.
The value of small distributed resources varies according to their location on the distribution system, SCE Director of Advanced Technology Doug Kim told Utility Dive at the conference. At present, utilities are still searching for tools to help them assess the value different DERs at different points on the grid, he said, and projects like the one announced last week with SolarCity aim to do just that.
California policymakers are pushing SCE and the other investor-owned utilities devise better valuation and planning techniques for resources on the distribution grid. Earlier this summer, the utilities filed Distribution Resource Plans with regulators outlining their approaches to “identify optimal locations for the deployment” of DERs. The law defines DERs as “distributed renewable generation resources, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles, and demand response technologies.”
“Distribution planning should start with a comprehensive, scenario driven, multi stakeholder planning process that standardizes data and methodologies to address locational benefits and costs of distributed resources," the CPUC proceeding reads.
SCE’s filing, which proposes several similar proposed pilots to the one undertaken with SolarCity “is part of our vision of grid modernization,” said Director of Electrical System Planning Erik Takayesu.