This article was written by Sadeem Bukhari, Manager, Power and Utilities | Digital Grid
There’s a good reason expressions like tectonic shift are still around millennia after the events that inspired them. Sometimes the scale, pace and likely impact of impending change in a landscape are so significant that the language used to describe them stays with us.
That’s perhaps an overly dramatic visual for what’s happening to the energy sector and the role of utilities within it, but change is coming, and it will require very real and equally rapid evolution – from business strategies to daily operating practices, as well as the data required to drive both.
It’s no news to anyone in the energy sector that the century-year-old grid, already challenged, can’t cope with everything that is being, and about to be, asked of it: the surge in both consumer and commercial electrical demand, the coming electrification of transportation and the rapid shift from fossil-based fuel power.
Add to this the federally mandated integration of more distributed energy resources (DERs) that is set to decentralize distribution networks and we have a landscape shift that requires its own dramatic language – if not call to action. As we brace for change, let’s also prepare for it with leading operational practices and technologies to meet the coming data-driven future. All of this starts with standardization.
Understand the landscape change
In September of 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission mandated Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) and Independent System Operators (ISOs) to enable more DER involvement in the power grid as a component of the building of a smart grid for the future. Essentially, the localization of some distribution networks at the local and community levels, sourced close to where it’s consumed, could mean lower energy rates for those consumers who own DER assets like solar panels and electric, but that localization will also require more complex management and data collection processes from utilities.
And the increase in DER volume is just one part of an overall expansion of feeders and in-field devices that is making the grid increasingly diverse and more complicated to manage on a daily basis. It’s now essential that utilities examine their network models and prepare processes and tools for the complexities to come. Failing to do so will mean power may struggle to control the increasing diversification of devices and integration of DERs, setting back grid progress exponentially.