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DER and the Non-Wires Solutions Opportunity

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The Fifth Installment in SEIA's New Opportunities for Solar Through Grid Modernization Series. For the full series, click here

Built during the last century, the United States electric grid was primarily designed to transport electricity from large central station power plants to end-use customers. But with rapid growth of distributed energy resources (DER) resulting from falling costs and technological advances, customers are increasingly taking charge of their own energy. These resources offer the promise of a more innovative, economic, and cleaner electric grid.

DER, such as solar power, will play an important role providing power and grid services where they are needed most. To reach this goal, however, distribution grid planning must evolve to allow more transparency into system needs, enable more robust data exchange between utilities and DER providers, and include DER as a standard component of utility load forecasts.

This paper, the fifth in SEIA's series on grid modernization, focuses on the ways in which utilities are deferring traditional distribution grid investments with investments in DER. As with the rest of the papers in this series, the experiences of two leading states, California and New York, are examined in detail. In brief, the two leading states discussed have advanced Non-Wires Solutions (NWS) on a limited or test-bed basis and are now more widely deploying these measures. While their efforts are driving certain types of DER installations to constrained locations on the distribution grid, improvements to the solicitation process and the forecasting that drives the solicitation are needed. Furthermore, regulators will have to determine the best deployment mechanisms and methods for compensating DER to capture the opportunity presented by NWS.

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