A new tool to assess the benefits and costs of distributed energy resources from the Electric Power Research Institute

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released The Integrated Grid: A Benefit-Cost Framework in February 2015, which may help resolve the controversy brewing about the benefits and costs that distributed solar power systems bring to the electric grid.

EPRI’s report presents a transparent, consistent, four-part methodology for assessing the benefits and costs of transitioning to a more Integrated Grid. This approach quantifies the impacts of distributed energy resources on the interrelated distribution and bulk power systems, and monetizes these impacts to inform decision-making. New pilot projects will put the framework to the test.

EPRI, whose mission is to advance “safer, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity for society,” says that the new protocols outlined in The Integrated Grid: A Benefit-Cost Framework seeks “to foster collaboration in five core efforts”:

  • Grid modernization to support distributed energy resource (DER) integration
  • Strategies and tools for grid planning and operation
  • Interconnection rules and standards
  • Pilots to verify and refine DER integration protocols
  • Informing policy and regulatory discussions

Read more about and download the full report here.

Oak Ridge National Lab to help EPB improve Chattanooga’s smart grid

The City of Chattanooga’s smart grid is about to get even smarter with the help of the Oak Ridge National Lab.

The Oak Ridge National Lab, the U.S. Department of Energy and the city-owned EPB signed an agreement this week for DOE researchers and computer experts from Oak Ridge to help EPB better analyze and control the volumes of data gathered continuously from the utility’s fiber-optic network attached for the past couple of years to Chattanooga’s electric grid.

“This partnership is real and we intend to move forward immediately in ways that hopefully can improve the reliability and efficiency of our electric system,” EPB Chairman Joe Ferguson said today after signing a memorandum of understanding to work with DOE and ORNL.

Chattanooga boasts the fastest citywide Internet links of any city in the Western Hemisphere, thanks to the federally-funded EPB fiber optic network. EPB got $111.6 million in federal stimulus funds nearly five years ago to help build its fiber optic network across its 600-mile service territory. EPB has installed more than 1,100 IntelligRuptors, which are smart grid devices that both alert system controllers of power problems and isolate outages.

EPB President Harold DePriest said the smart grid has already helped reduce outage times in Chattanooga by 60 percent and with Oak Ridge assistance, he hopes to identify new ways to make the grid smarter, more reliable and even faster.

EPB’s smart grid gathers meter readings from users once every 15 minutes, or nearly 3,000 times more often than the manual monthly meter readings used in the past. The Oak Ridge laboratory, which boasts one of the fastest and biggest computers in the world, will provide engineering scholars at EPB to study, sort and analyze the data from the smart grid. ORNL Lab Director Thomas Mason said such data analysis should not only help EPB get better but to develop systems to help electricity providers improve around the country.

Read the full story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press here.

Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press