The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is an educational nonprofit working to facilitate the electric power industry’s smart transition to a clean and modern energy future through education, research, standards and collaboration.

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Integrated Distribution Planning: Key Insights, Opportunities, and Challenges

Posted to Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)

image credit: Smart Electric Power Alliance

This past month on a North America Smart Energy Week Panel (Not Your Grandparents Distribution Utility: How the Grid Can Evolve in a High Penetration DER Environment), one of my panelists, Paul De Martini, spoke about how our industry is shifting from "planning for scarcity" to "planning for abundance" - an abundance of DERs that is. We are already beginning to see significant DER growth, and this is becoming even more striking when you look at projections like Wood Mackenzie, estimating DER capacity could reach 397 gigawatts in just five years.

From our latest SEPA publication, Integrated Distribution Planning: A Framework for the Futureour team sought to lay out a blueprint for how utilities, regulators, and their stakeholders can begin preparing for a high DER future. Truthfully it's not just high DER adoption that is driving more utilities and regulators to look at integrated distribution planning, but the advancing capabilities of DERs, broader shifts towards electrification, new goals for carbon reduction, and increased attention on resilience. These factors are all bringing the need for greater visibility along the grid as well as more advanced and integrated planning processes.

Our latest report helps demystify integrated distribution planning (IDP) and maps out how utilities may take a phased approach, transitioning from existing distribution planning practices today.

Highlights from SEPA report: 

  • Have clear vision, goals, and objectives to guide IDP

  • Consider key inputs and existing capabilities to determine starting and future points for IDP

  • IDP can be distilled to 6 key elements (see figure below) that can advance along SEPA's phased framework 

  • Allow lead time and investment in capability building

  • Continued education from utilities to non-utility stakeholders and regulators is needed 

  • Further investment and research into planning and operational tools and technologies will be required to get to more advanced phases of IDP

 

The Bigger Challenges/Opportunities Going Forward: 

  • Bridging existing technology gaps and investing in foundational grid investments for future planning

  • Investing and building competencies in big data at utilities  

  • Change management and integration of systems, groups, processes

  • New Regulatory Constructs needed

Feel free to download the report for free, and would be glad to hear people's thoughts: 

 

Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)
The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is an educational nonprofit working to facilitate the electric power industry’s smart transition to a clean and modern energy future through education, research, standards and collaboration.

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Brenda Chew's picture

Thank Brenda for the Post!

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