FERC DER panels look at coordination, planning    


PJM participated in four of the seven panels at the two-day Federal Energy Regulatory Commission technical conference on distributed energy resources April 10 and 11 in Washington, D.C.

Here is a synopsis of PJM’s April 11 presentations. The first panel on April 10 was covered in a previous post.

Panel: Collection and Availability of Data on DER Installations

Focus: Understanding the need for bulk power system planners and operators to have access to accurate data to plan and operate the bulk power system, explore the types of data that are needed, and assess the current state of DER data collection.

Donnie Bielak, manager – Reliability Engineering, told FERC that for PJM, data collection is primarily a non-wholesale DER issue. PJM will have appropriate information from wholesale DER.

That element is critical because DER have the ability to impact bulk power system operations and planning. Better information about these resources will help PJM more accurately forecast the operation of DER and potentially provide additional resources during emergency operating conditions.

As Reliability Coordinator and Transmission Operator, Bielak said, PJM has the responsibility of maintaining system operating limits. Without proper visibility, dispatchers may encounter unforeseen system conditions that may lead to the need for emergency procedures, including load shed, to control. Validation is not possible with existing tools, and new processes need to be developed based on data available.

Regarding penetration levels, Bielak told FERC that behind-the-meter DER (particularly solar) can mask congestion that was forecasted through peak conditions.

“Traditionally, peak load models are used to determine worst-case scenarios,” he said. “However, during summer months, loads with large DER can be at their maximum shortly after sunset and not during midday.”

Panel: Coordination of DER Aggregations Participating in RTO/ISO Markets

Focus: Potential ways for RTOs/ISOs, distribution utilities, retail regulatory authorities and DER aggregators to coordinate the integration of a DER aggregation into the RTO/ISO markets.

Pete Langbein, manager – Demand Response Operations, told FERC there is a balance between aggregation, which will bring small resources into the market to meet minimum size requirements, and operational control. The more dispersed the aggregation, the less control there is to manage location-specific grid conditions. PJM and stakeholders are working through the DER Subcommittee to look at enhancements for behind-the-customer-meter DER that have the capability to serve their own load and export power onto the transmission or distribution system.

“If we have no aggregation, there may be resources that cannot participate in the market because of the minimum size requirement,” said Langbein. “Today these resources are required to make a decision whether to participate similar to other generators or as a demand response resource where they are not permitted to export power onto the transmission or distribution system.”

Langbein said that PJM believes resources that will inject power into the transmission or distribution system should come through the interconnection queue process to ensure the safety and reliability of the grid.

“Once the appropriate analysis is complete and any necessary equipment is installed, the DER should be able to participate in the wholesale market based on the wholesale market rules. Aggregations may be necessary to facilitate small DER resource participation and PJM is working with stakeholders on the appropriate next steps in the stakeholder process,” he said.

Wholesale DER either come through the PJM generation interconnection queue or participate as demand response (DR). As a result, DER that comes through the interconnection queue does not aggregate; PJM ensures coordination with all entities involved based on the point of interconnection (transmission owner, resource owner and distribution company, as needed).

DER that participates as DR and does not go through the interconnection queue may aggregate to meet the 100 kW minimum participation threshold. Existing DR participation requires coordination with the distribution utilities to verify specific data.

Panel: Ongoing Operational Coordination

Focus: Operational considerations associated with both individual DER and DER aggregations and with the interactions and communications among DER, DER aggregators, distribution utilities and transmission operators.

Joe Ciabattoni, manager – Markets Coordination, explained that PJM has established status quo for each scenario – such as EDC line outage, support for an EDC line, DER on outage, and EDC. It works mostly by phone but is used rarely.

“In a high-DER world or in a particular utility territory where this coordination is burdensome, we want this process to be consistent and efficient,” said Ciabattoni. “Perhaps, even automated.”

“In particular, if an EDC has a line outage, or needs to curtail DER, this is a private matter between the DER and the EDC. From PJM’s perspective, the DER takes the risk that the EDC cannot deliver the power to PJM or force the DER to curtail.”

Ciabattoni said it would be helpful if FERC could provide clarity on jurisdictional issues such as wholesale vs. retail or federal vs. state jurisdiction. Does DER have the right to sell wholesale over the distribution system? How would disputes be resolved, through the Operating Agreement or Interconnection Agreement?