Special MIC on DER moves into electric distribution coordination phase

The Markets Implementation Committee’s special session meetings on distributed energy resources are moving to a new dimension. They’re looking at how to coordinate the operations of distributed energy resources (DER) which participate in the wholesale market with electric distribution companies.

Until now, the group has been focused primarily on the development of wholesale market rules for DER. Going forward, the committee will also concentrate on coordination, the EDC responsibilities, transmission owner responsibilities and PJM responsibilities.

The committee defines distributed energy resources as generation or electric energy storage resources connected at distribution voltages and/or connected behind a load meter.

The MIC-DER discussions have been a starting place for examining (1) how PJM currently dispatches DER participating in the wholesale market as a resource and (2) what needs to improve.

Since wholesale DER physically interconnect to the distribution system and have the ability to inject power onto distribution lines, PJM will need a new level of coordination with the distribution company. This discussion will take place in parallel with the formation of market rules.

There is some amount of coordination today. As discussed at the Aug. 1 meeting, as DER continues to grow and become a larger part of the grid mix, the level of coordination and procedures will need to be improved.

And deciding how that might happen will present a real opportunity for some members who normally aren’t involved in the stakeholder process.

Scott Baker, senior business solution analyst and chair of the committee, said the solution process would benefit from having more EDCs involved.

“While EDCs are a sector in PJM’s stakeholder process, it is less typical for distribution engineering staff and other business personnel to attend PJM meetings,” said Baker. Adding it was more typical for transmission companies and staff to attend.

“It is evident in these meetings, however, that the distribution companies are a key constituent, especially at this point. They are the source of knowledge about distribution-level interconnection of DER and operation. The committee would benefit from increased participation by EDC staff.”

PJM is looking to gather more DER information from an operations perspective. The more information the system operators have, the better – they know what load they have, what resources are operating and where.

How might PJM do this? Some stakeholders have suggested a pilot program with a review process.  A pilot program might allow PJM and the stakeholders to observe how various design components work – or don’t work – in specific settings.