Connecting the Dots in DER Business Process Automation
image credit: Picture Courtesy: Smart Energy International
- Aug 23, 2019 1:00 pm GMTAug 22, 2019 1:45 pm GMT
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This item is part of the Special Issue - 2019-09 - Distributed Energy Resources, click here for more
Distributed Generation has experienced an unprecedented increase in Solar PV installations both in the commercial and residential sectors. Energy providers have been inundated with incoming interconnection applications resulting in increased processing time for the issuance of Permission to Operate (PTO). Following are the market implications to the current business process:
- Public Utility Commission recommends completion of an interconnection application within 30 days
- Need for a single source of information for comprehensive stakeholder management
- Ease workflow transitions from one department to the other.
- Surge in the number of incoming interconnection applications, and ways to handle the volume with greater efficacy.
With expanding regulatory pressure, consumer demand, and mandatory business processes, utilities are constantly looking to adopt a comprehensive solution that may cover all critical checkpoints. This end-to-end process in distributed generation systems begin with the submission of a consumer interconnection application via a contractor, the issuance of permission to operate, and eventually processed rebates based on the energy saved and/or generated. The technological disconnect between the stakeholders such as implementers, contractors, regulators, and even the constituents within the utility, prolongs the turnaround time.
Utilities rely on various systems to manage business process workflows. A collapse of this method occurs when a lack of integration of these systems fail their basic intention; supporting stakeholders in the management of business processes. This underlines the need of a cohesive system that:
• integrates with existing consumer information system to access system data
• has complex data models to meticulously analyze distributed generation applications
• is project specific for managing interconnection processes
• has powerful end-to-end analytical capabilities to manage Distributed Energy Resources (DER) business processes.
The nature of renewable interconnection processing is complex and would be greatly improved by a dedicated stakeholder management system. A dedicated distributed generation portal facilitates the energy providers to manage renewable interconnection process workflow:
Connecting the dots:
An exclusive self-service portal for installers to manage interconnection applications and facilitate digital signature of the agreement between consumers and the utility has improved the interconnection application processing tremendously. With the integration of several systems including consumer information system, energy efficiency tracking and demand side management programs workflow, utilities are now able to apply focus on the improvement of the consumer experience.
An intuitive interface to ease the complexity of the interconnection agreement processing should:
• enable location tracking of the premise
• validate consumer information in the application by fetching data from the legacy systems
• facilitate digital signature of the interconnection agreement between parties
• improve the interface between the constituents to process rebates.
An automated interconnection application workflow results in a substantial decrease in the processing time to issue PTO. Additionally, the automated workflow has reduced certain mundane procedures such as service study, impact study, and prompting only digital signature as a part of the workflow. Overall, there was a 10x increase in the number of interconnection applications processed every month.