For more on DERs and FERC 2222, download the full Navigating the Distributed Energy Resources Revolution: A Playbook to Guide Grid Modernization and FERC 2222 Compliance.

Utilities are making solid strides in small-scale DER integrations. While efforts like these are helping with grid modernization and beneficial electrification efforts, the scale of the current challenge requires a more ambitious approach than proof-of-concept deployments and pilot electrification projects. DER deployments will accelerate as cost of ownership continues to fall and wholesale markets unlock additional benefits, whether utilities choose to take an active role or not. And, the longer utilities wait to engage DERs at an enterprise level, the more difficult and expensive it will be to coordinate and manage rapid DER expansion on their grids. 

Bidgely offers utilities a roadmap to successfully navigate — and more importantly benefit from — the DER revolution.

Locate and Analyze DERs on Your Grid: Penetration, Location, Capacity, Activity

Energy providers need to know where DERs are located on the grid, their size, and how they’re being operated — preferably on a real-time or near real-time basis. This is especially true for customer-sited DERs and behind-the-meter DERs, where utilities typically have little to no visibility.

Applying sophisticated algorithms to AMI data makes it possible to learn how customer net generation is moving onto and off of the grid, and understand the characteristics of their residual behind-the-meter demand across household appliances and mechanical systems. Bidgely’s patented disaggregation algorithms powered by our UtilityAI® platform deliver a high fidelity profile of every end-use present in a household or small business. Utilities can determine with certainty if and how a customer is using a PEV, a rooftop solar system with battery storage, a heat pump water heater, and more.

Utilities typically rely on grid monitoring and analysis tools that focus on the distribution system and go as deep as the low voltage lines. That approach only shows half the picture. Demand data disaggregation and analytics are critical additions to the tool kit for any utility that’s serious about planning, deploying, and operating a two-way communicating, decentralized grid. Just because the traditional distribution system analysis shows you CAN invest in a distributed resource at a certain location, doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD.

For example, a hosting capacity analysis may show that a feeder can handle an additional 15 MW of distributed capacity, so a third party solar developer signs up to build it. However, disaggregated load data may reveal that most of the non-shiftable load on the feeder doesn’t match well with the duck-curve load the solar resource will provide. Or it reveals that there is an additional 10 MW of behind-the-meter DERs on the feeder that could be utilized to boost the hosting capacity to 25 MW, allowing additional technology types and configurations for utility DERs deployments on the feeder. Or, maybe the disaggregated data reveals a consistent end-use demand on a different feeder that more closely matches the export load shape of the solar resource offering a more efficient and effective deployment location.

Get in Front of Wholesale Energy Markets Opening to DERs

Wholesale markets have already started opening to DERs this summer, and third-party aggregators are already on the scene signing up utility customers into their own wholesale programs. There is an urgent need right now for utilities to get a handle on who is participating and how. It’s possible that a utility that fails to fully engage in this opportunity might one day buy day-ahead, or spot market wholesale power aggregated from its own customers.

That example may seem far fetched, afterall FERC Order 2222 requires extensive coordination between distribution utilities, RTOs/ISOs, aggregators, and state regulators in order to streamline the integration of DERs into wholesale markets. And utility scale DERs deployments will be captured through interconnection agreements, and monitored through the inverter technology required to connect them to the grid.

But what about all the customer-sited and behind-the-meter DERs? Bidgely’s near-real-time DER usage behavior, pattern and trend data provides utilities and regulators with an invaluable single source of truth that ensures all parties are on the same page.

As well, this new policy reality is creating a blurred line between wholesale and retail markets, and it’s essential to equitably allocate costs between retail customers, DER owners, and aggregators. Bidgely’s data science empowers utilities to create granular and nuanced rate structures to successfully balance cost recovery — maintaining a safe, reliable grid system, and appropriately compensating DER owners for their resources. Bidgely’s DER insights inform responsive and hyper-targeted tariff structures to avoid a mismatch between rates and cost to serve, mitigating concerns over cross-subsidization and ensuring equity goals can be achieved. 

Rethink Demand Response

Analytics-driven demand response programs have the power to alleviate congestion on transformers and substations in a more agile and scalable way by shifting the highest propensity end-uses within a given load profile and location.

For example, legacy demand-side management approaches might offer all customers within a congested area an incentive to shift their EV load. But not every customer in that area will have an EV, and among those who do, it is likely that many are already charging off-peak (or at public stations/work). Bidgely’s AI-powered data analytics allow energy marketers to pinpoint which customers have an EV and when they are charging at home. With those insights, energy providers can focus demand response programs to compensate these customers in proportion to their load contribution to realize greater grid benefit.

Demand response programs must also evolve from focusing unilaterally on reducing load to a two-way provision of flexible load and supply. BIdgely’s more agile and hyper-personalized approach to customer engagement plays an essential role in empowering utilities to influence where, when, and how customers use energy. 

Accelerate Grid Modernization Timelines

Current “business as usual” approaches to grid modernization and beneficial electrification are likely to take 20-plus years to complete, in direct conflict with more aggressive decarbonization timelines. 

To accelerate this progress, Bidgely is working with utilities worldwide to leverage their AMI data to develop bottom-up, baseline views of their grids and plot roadmaps for truly distributed, two-way communicable grids. With a data-enabled foundation, it is possible to scale DER investments very quickly and shrink modernization timelines to 10 years or less.

The Time to Act is Now

Energy customers are deploying DERs at an increasing pace, and rules like FERC 2222 and massive investment programs like the IRA and IIJA are unlocking new revenue streams, which will have many third parties vying to engage customers in aggregation and integration programs that promise to ramp DER adoption even faster. 

That’s why immediately harnessing demand data to catalog and deploy the variety of energy services DERs provide, and scale and optimize DERs across the grid is an imperative. 

For more DER program strategies, download the full Navigating the Distributed Energy Resources Revolution: A Playbook to Guide Grid Modernization and FERC 2222 Compliance. Behind-the-meter, demand-side data has the power to enhance outcomes and increase the value of distributed resources utility-wide, but the time to act is now.