Integrated DER and Community Choice

Defining Integrated DER

A confluence of technological, economic, social, and political forces is dramatically transforming energy policy and the way electricity is generated, managed, delivered, and used. At the heart of this energy transformation is the shift from a centralized, predominantly fossil-energy based model to a decentralized, clean, and more democratized energy model. Fundamental transformations on both the supply and demand side are being addressed with a relatively new deployment model known as Integrated Distributed Energy Resources (IDER).

The term Distributed Energy Resources is used in a variety of ways. In the context of Community Choice, we broadly define Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) as decentralized technologies and systems that can displace the need to use fossil or remote energy sources, and potentially increase economic opportunities in the communities. Some DERs generate clean energy locally, some store it. Others reduce the demand for energy, or manage demand peaks, still others make the energy supply more resilient. Integrated, DERs can advance all of these purposes. DERs can be on either the utility or customer side of the meter, with most being deployed on the customer side.

The integrated DER model includes renewable energy development projects (solar, wind, geothermal, small-hydro, biomass) integrated with: · energy storage · electric vehicles and incentives · fuel-switching of buildings and homes from gas to electric · demand response · microgrids · energy efficiency · data analytics · and the enabling data analytics and smart technologies for integrating all the parts.

Two key aspects of optimization of each technology is their integration and aggregation, which allows for synergies, maximized efficiency, and cost savings, and the means by which electricity and money are exchanged in the system, the transactional aspect.

Systems Integration. We talk about integrated DERs a lot, but what does it mean to integrate two or more technologies, is there a spectrum of integration or is it black & white – either integrated or not? What measurable value does integration bring? This topic will be addressed in greater detail as the DER Hub evolves.

Transaction Mechanisms. This is the critical issue of how transactions take place within and among DER stakeholders. Topics like blockchain and other means of lateral sharing and money transactions will be in this category as the DER-Hub evolves.

Resources

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Articles

Defining DERs: Does it matter that we all seem to have slightly different definitions?
(Clean Power Research, 2018)

Get Ahead of the IDER Wave or be Crushed by It
(CCP’s Barry Vesser, 2018)

Webinars & Presentations

CCAs + IDER: The Case for Why and When
(2018 Webinar Recording – Video)

CCAs & DERs: Opportunities for Early Action
(EcoShift Consulting, Chris Sentieri)

Relevance for Community Choice Agencies

Many in the CCA community are becoming convinced that CCAs that develop and deploy DERs in the coming years will be more competitive and offer more value for customers than CCAs that only or mostly compete on the basis of power mix and short-term low prices. In fact, relatively small early efforts can pave the way for substantial returns, and also help differentiate the CCA from the Investor Owned Utility and therefore minimize risks to the long-term viability of the CCA.

Benefits of distributed resources for CCAs and customers can include:
• carbon emission reductions
• electrical grid resilience
• overall cost savings from avoided grid upgrades
• flexible management of peak capacity and costs
• job creation
• local investment
• and the ability to create microgrids that integrate generation and storage.

The long-term vision is to see Community Choice Agencies become real game changers!

Distributed Energy Resources will help drive that future, by stimulating local economic development, helping to manage the local grid more effectively, and creating new models for carbon reduction, that can be emulated in other communities nationwide.

We hope the resources available in this DER⌁Hub will help CCAs accelerate DER planning and development, and thereby drive increased benefits for people in these communities, as well as help build stronger, more differentiated CCAs.