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New Paper Guides Regulators, Utilities on Key Hosting Capacity Analysis Decisions

image credit: Photo Credit: IREC
Gwendolyn Brown's picture
Communications Director Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)

As Communications Director at IREC, Gwen works to promote awareness of IREC’s programs and successes to advance a 100% clean energy future that is resilient, reliable, and equitable. Prior to...

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A new paper, Key Decisions for Hosting Capacity Analyses, published by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), shares key lessons about a new grid mapping tool that can help utilities and states better integrate clean energy technologies on the electric grid.

The paper focuses on hosting capacity analysis (HCA), a cutting-edge grid transparency tool that first emerged around 2015. An HCA provides an assessment of the ability of the electric grid to host additional distributed energy resources (DERs)—such as solar and energy storage—at specific locations, without the need for costly upgrades or lengthy interconnection studies. HCAs are rapidly growing in popularity, with multiple states now requiring or actively exploring their development to inform the integration of more DERs on the grid. Just last week, regulators in Colorado adopted new rules requiring HCAs and regulators in California issued an order improving the HCA's use for transportation electrification.

The paper is designed to help readers understand the variety of issues and decisions that need to be considered as a public-facing HCA is developed in order to ensure it is useful in supporting DER integration. IREC has been actively involved in regulatory proceedings and research projects related to HCA development around the country, including in California, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Minnesota. These experiences yielded a number of lessons about the factors necessary to produce a useful analysis. The development of the paper was supported by a grant from the Barr Foundation.

“Having seen firsthand that some HCAs are not trusted or used, we developed this guide to help regulators understand the key decisions that influence if  HCA investments yield the desired results,” said co-author Yochi Zakai, attorney for IREC at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP.

“IREC’s extensive work on HCAs to date, as well as conversations with utility regulators and other clean energy stakeholders, made clear that a key decisions guide would benefit other states considering the adoption of this valuable tool,” said IREC Regulatory Vice President Radina Valova. “IREC has translated its experience into key lessons learned about how to produce a useful HCA that achieves its ultimate goal—enabling more DERs on the grid.”

There are multiple ways to develop an HCA and decisions made during the development process can significantly affect the HCA’s quality and ability to serve its intended function. Some early decisions can be difficult, expensive, or time intensive to change after the fact, while others can be built upon and evolve along with the analysis over time. Key Decisions for Hosting Capacity Analyses provides regulators with a basis for making conscious choices on these issues to ensure the HCA is helpful to support the deployment of DERs, including both generation (e.g., solar and storage) and load (e.g., transportation and building electrification).  

A webinar discussing the issues explored in the paper will be held on Wednesday, October 6 at 10am PDT / 1pm EDT; register here to join live or receive a recording of the event. The paper can be downloaded at: https://irecusa.org/resources/key-decisions-for-hosting-capacity-analyses

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About the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC): IREC builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet. Its vision is a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable.  IREC develops and advances the regulatory reforms, technical standards, and workforce solutions needed to enable the streamlined integration of clean, distributed energy resources. IREC has been trusted for its independent clean energy expertise for nearly 40 years, since its founding in 1982. For more information, visit www.irecusa.org or follow IREC on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook

About Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP (SMW): SMW represents IREC in regulatory proceedings across the United States. The attorneys at SMW also serve as subject matter experts for IREC on topics such as hosting capacity analyses and DER interconnection. SWM attorneys Yochi Zakai, Sky Stanfield, and Matthew McKerley drafted this resource for IREC.

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