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How to maximize the value of DERMS in a future with more EVs?

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Sayonsom Chanda's picture
Technical Lead Plexflo

Sayonsom Chanda, Ph.D. is a smart grid engineer and entrepreneur based in Boulder, Colorado, USA. He is the founder & tech lead of Plexflo - a Utility-focused EV infrastructure planning...

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  • Jun 29, 2022
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This item is part of the Special Issue - 2022-06 - DER and Management Systems, click here for more

EV sales and customer-owned distributed energy resources (DERs) are increasing. Though it is suitable for greening the grid, the utilities are looking forward to Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) to mitigate the EV demand and DER-related operational issues while creating new value streams.

Despite all the consumer-driven changes in the utility industry, it is essential to note that the fundamental desire of utility customers has not changed - to minimize their monthly energy bills. This is possible by enabling the customer to exercise control over the most energy-intensive parts of their lives, such as heating their homes or powering their electric vehicles. A utility can effectively enable customers a choice only by implementing advanced distribution management systems (ADMS) and DERMS. Since EVs will almost certainly increase the customer's energy bills, having a DERMS solution that integrates residential EV-charge management systems will be paramount.

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Despite its apparent benefits, the roll-out of DERMS in any large utility is riddled with challenges. Utilities need to establish the functional value of DERMS for their customers and employees. In other words, utilities consider the ease of adoption (human-machine interactions) among employees, and protocol versatility (OpenFMB, IEEE 2030.5, MultiSpeak 5, IEC 61968, to name a few), and the technological maturity of the DERMS platform to deal with EV-related stress on the power grid.

As EVs and charging stations gradually become more commonplace, Utilities will look into the capability of DERMS having a wide variety of battery, storage, and EV charging technologies modeled into their networks.

Since EV growth is still developing in most parts of North America, utilities must also build pipelines between EV-adoption forecasting tools with their DERMS platforms. The utilities can begin to work by building transactional relationships with customers who are most likely to buy an EV soon and learning from their early customer relationships to build effective operational models in DERMS.

DERMS is a game-changing innovation in operations technology for electric utilities. However - like any powerful tool - they must be adapted to specific demands of every feeder to maximize the return on investment made by utilities in adopting DERMS. Building EV adoption propensity models - identifying which customers are most likely to buy EVs next - will help set baselines for the grid optimization and pricing algorithms running within the DERMS platform. DERMS is also expected to be capable of navigating the complexities of coordinating and dispatching a large number of EV charging stations with different control points. Such signals may involve:

  • Requesting demand reduction of amperes drawn from a fleet of EVSEs from a charging network operator.
  • Directly controlling individual EVSEs.
  • A combination of these.

The approach proposed above would enable DERMS to extend its impact beyond managed charging - and deliver insights that customer programs teams, regulatory strategy activation teams, and rate design teams can use daily.

As EVs increase, utilities will doubly emphasize ensuring that DERMS can function as intelligent operational systems for managing charging demand. However, to ensure that controlled charging will yield anticipated value today - utilities must invest in forecasting feeder-level EV demands first. Then, they must integrate the EV growth forecasts and novel EV charging station models into planning tools to set clear expectations from the DERMS platforms. It would enable utilities to quantify the future cost of services and asset depreciation due to increased EV loads - and feed these data points into the DERMS to create fair and flexible tariffs for every EV and non-EV owning customer in their jurisdictions. # How to maximize the value of DERMS in a future with more EVs?

In response to accelerating EV sales and customer-owned distributed energy resources (DERs), the utilities are looking forward to Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) to mitigate operational issues and develop a consumer-friendly rate design.

Despite all the consumer-driven changes in the utility industry, it is essential to note that the fundamental desire of utility customers has not changed - to minimize their monthly energy bills. Bill minimization is possible by enabling customers to exercise control over the most energy-intensive parts of their lives, such as heating their homes or powering their electric vehicles. A utility can effectively help customer's a choice only by implementing advanced distribution management systems (ADMS) and DERMS. Since EVs will almost certainly increase the customer's energy bills, having a DERMS solution that integrates residential EV-charge management systems will be paramount.

Despite its apparent benefits, the roll-out of DERMS in any large utility is riddled with challenges. Utilities need to establish the functional value of DERMS for their customers and employees. In other words, utilities consider the ease of adoption (human-machine interactions) among employees, and protocol versatility (OpenFMB, IEEE 2030.5, MultiSpeak 5, IEC 61968, to name a few), and the technological maturity of the DERMS platform to deal with EV-related stress on the power grid.

As EVs and charging stations gradually become more commonplace, Utilities will investigate the capability of DERMS having a wide variety of battery, storage, and EV charging technologies modeled into their networks.

Since EV growth is still nascent in most parts of North America, utilities must build pipelines between EV-adoption forecasting tools with their DERMS platforms. The EV forecasting pipeline development can best do this by building relationships with customers who are most likely to buy an EV soon and learning from their early customer relationships to build effective operational models in DERMS.

DERMS is a game-changing innovation in operations technology for electric utilities. However, they must be adapted to specific demands of every feeder to maximize the return on investment made by utilities in adopting DERMS. Building EV adoption propensity models - identifying which customers are most likely to buy EVs next - will help set baselines for the grid optimization and pricing algorithms running within the DERMS platform. DERMS is also expected to be capable of navigating the complexities of coordinating and dispatching many EV charging stations with different control points. Such signals may involve requesting demand reduction of amperes drawn from a fleet of EVSEs from a charging network operator, directly controlling individual EVSEs, or a combination of these. This would enable DERMS to extend its impact beyond managed charging - and deliver insights that customer programs teams, regulatory strategy activation teams, and rate design teams can use daily.

As EVs increase, utilities will doubly emphasize ensuring that DERMS can function as intelligent operational systems for managing charging demand. However, to ensure that controlled charging will yield anticipated value, today - utilities must first invest in forecasting feeder-level EV demands. Utilities must then integrate them with EV-impacted load forecasts and novel EV charging station models into planning tools to set clear expectations from the DERMS platforms. It would enable utilities to quantify the future cost of services and asset depreciation due to increased EV loads - and feed these data points into the DERMS to create fair and flexible tariffs for every EV and non-EV owning customer in their jurisdictions.

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Rafael Herzberg's picture
Rafael Herzberg on Jul 7, 2022

It is high time to improve power rate design. 

EVs will potentially change the way power is consumed in each country. kW capacity availability might become a key factor.

My suggestion is including kW capacity demand charges for all electric power consumers. This will send a strong signal associated with the way we will use power.

And the good news: 1) meters that are able to record kW demand have become really cheap!, 2)  once kw capacity is charged every other energy user (nowadays billed only by kWh) will have a natural tendency to consume energy in "valeys".

Sayonsom Chanda's picture
Sayonsom Chanda on Jul 8, 2022

Thank you for your comment Rafael. The concept of charging for electricity in "Inclining Blocks" is quite prevalent these days - however, many customers are just not aware of these, or find it too inefficient. Like Fitbit made health awareness "cool" and easily trackable ... the utilities need to innovate to caring for energy "cool" among its customers. 

Rafael Herzberg's picture
Rafael Herzberg on Jul 8, 2022

Challenging times and it looks great for new opportunities!

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