Meeting #38: Comprehensive Distribution System Planning

Thursday, May 14, 2015
10:00am – 3:15pm
Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE)
110 W. Fayette Street
Baltimore, MD


With the growth of distributed energy resources (DERs) such as energy efficiency, demand response and distributed generation, traditional distribution utilities are experiencing changes such as lower sales and greater challenges in system planning because they have less complete information and less control regarding load and resources interconnected to their grid. Nor do they necessarily know when utilization of sections of the grid may decline due to customer engagement in distributed energy resources. Further, concerns over the resiliency of the grid have emerged along with the need for massive infrastructure upgrades. In some instances, strategically located DERs may be a lower cost alternative to extensive capital expenditures to harden the grid and make it more reliable. While in the past distribution service has not garnered much attention, the focus is shifting as events like Hurricane Sandy remind us of the importance of a strong and reliable grid. This meeting focused on distribution planning and the evolving role of DERs.

Related Resource: Integrated Distribution Planning


9:30 – 10:00am
Networking with attendees

10:00 – 10:15am
The Honorable Lawrence Brenner, Maryland Public Service Commission
The Honorable Betty Ann Kane, DC Public Service Commission
Janine Migden-Ostrander, Regulatory Assistance Project

10:15 – 11:30am
Distribution Planning: What’s going on?
Steve Gelatko, PPL: Distribution Investments in Grid Resiliency
Janine Migden-Ostrander, Regulatory Assistance Project: Distribution Planning: What’s Going On? New York: Reforming the Energy Vision
Sahm White, Clean Coalition: California Distribution Resources Plan & ‘More Than Smart’ Working Group

With increased attention on issues of grid hardening and resilience, and steady growth in customer-sited DERs, the grid is changing. High projected cost estimates for infrastructure upgrades are a concern for regulators and stakeholders alike. This has resulted in an interest in more comprehensive planning at the distribution system level. Some states have required reporting, while others are taking a broad approach that would direct distribution utilities to incorporate DER in their planning. The three speakers discussed: the new approach being taken in New York; the California docket on incorporating DER into planning; and the distribution plans filed in Pennsylvania.

11:30am - 12:45pm
Pathways to an Integrated Grid 
Bill Gould, EPRI: Integrated Grid — Developing a Benefit-Cost Framework and Putting It to the Test
Troy Anatra, Enbala
Allen Freifeld, Viridity

With the emergence of new technologies and services, access to customer information and access to the grid become important elements. This panel discussed the traditional monopoly structure of the grid and possible changes so as to permit third party entrepreneurs to provide DER services to end-use customers.

12:45 - 1:45pm

1:45 – 3:00pm
Utility Plans for Infrastructure Improvements
William Gausman, PEPCO: Utility Plans for Infrastructure Improvements
Owen Smith, Rocky Mountain Institute: Challenges & Solutions in a Transforming Industry
Rebecca Craft, Con Edison: Con Edison’s Use of Targeted Demand-side Resources

This panel focused on how DER can be used as a tool in deferring, downsizing, or avoiding expensive infrastructure upgrades. For example DER can be used to relieve congestion on a distribution line or can be a least-cost response to a needed infrastructure upgrade. The speakers on this panel addressed how DER can be used in this manner as well as pricing options to encourage strategically located DER deployments.


3:00 – 3:15pm
Wrap-Up, Adjournment
The Honorable Lawrence Brenner, Maryland Public Service Commission
The Honorable Betty Ann Kane, DC Public Service Commission
John Shenot, Regulatory Assistance Project