PJM, and the electricity industry as a whole, continues to examine the growing impact and potential benefits of distributed energy resources (DER) on the future of power grid operations and electricity markets.
In April, PJM announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to study and support the integration of DER such as residential and commercial solar. (See PJM and Argonne National Lab Working to Fine-Tune Guidelines for Solar.)
Argonne worked to support PJM’s Distributed Energy Resource Ride-Through Task Force, which sought to develop guidelines for “ride through” and “trip” requirements. These guidelines are important for PJM to be able to integrate an increasing number of solar installations into its footprint. Much of the task force’s work is now complete, and was sunset at the Dec. 12 meeting of PJM’s Planning Committee.
PJM Inside Lines covered a myriad of DER-related issues in 2019, including:
Power has traditionally flowed in one direction, from generators over transmission lines to distribution utilities, and finally to consumers. That “one-way” power-flow paradigm is changing rapidly. Smaller generation and energy storage devices, known as DER, are serving a growing share of demand more locally, and increasingly feeding power back to the grid in a “two-way” fashion.
For PJM, DER falls into two categories – wholesale DER and non-wholesale DER. Although some DER participate in wholesale power markets like PJM’s (wholesale DER), most do not participate in wholesale markets (non-wholesale DER); instead, this type of DER reduces customer load or utility load. Non-wholesale DER isn’t visible to PJM the way most generators are.
Consumers in the region served by PJM are taking an increasingly active role in their electricity purchase decisions. This trend is reflected in the rise of DER – generation or energy storage resources connected at the local distribution level, often behind a customer’s electricity meter. Nowhere is this growing popularity more evident than in the expansion of rooftop solar. Over the past decade, the biggest increase in solar generation in the PJM region has been in customer-side installations – generally, photovoltaic panels placed on the roofs of homes and businesses.
Now more than ever, PJM works with utilities, industry partners, universities and states to better understand how microgrids operate, how they can access the wholesale electricity markets, and how they can serve the mission of providing secure, reliable and resilient power to customers within the context of the macro power grid that PJM operates.
The concept that a battery could not only power a car but also discharge power into the grid was demonstrated a decade ago in a joint pilot project by PJM and the University of Delaware. Now, the PJM region is at the forefront of another vehicle-to-grid technology first: Dominion Energy Virginia is poised to roll out the nation’s largest electric school bus deployment.
In September, PJM also introduced a new page on the Learning Center that helps explain DER and details PJM’s multi-faceted approach to accommodating this growing resource trend.
Inside Lines will continue to follow the many issues involving DER integration and development in 2020.