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IREC Policy on Adopting New Standard for DERs

Resource will help stakeholders navigate technical and policy issues related to the new IEEE standard.

An ever-expanding number of Americans are seeking to adopt clean energy technologies — such as solar, wind, energy storage and electric vehicles — in their homes, businesses and communities. These clean energy technologies must be interconnected with the electric distribution system while maintaining grid safety and reliability.

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) recently published its policy titled, ‘Making the Grid Smarter: State Primer on Adopting the New IEEE Standard 1547™-2018 for Distributed Energy Resources.’ IREC’s new resource will help states, regulators and other stakeholders navigate the related technical and policy issues they will need to address in the next few years.

This important national standard was updated last year to enable significantly higher penetrations of distributed energy resources (DERs) on the grid. Adopted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the IEEE Standard 1547™-2018 for Interconnection and Interoperability of Distributed Energy Resources with Associated Electric Power Systems Interface introduces a menu of options that states across the U.S. will have to adopt and implement.

“The 2018 standard will help ensure new distributed energy resources meet the most updated performance standards, which will maintain or increase the stability, reliability and intelligence of the distribution grid over time, as more customers adopt transformative clean energy technologies,” says Brian Lydic, IREC’s chief regulatory engineer.

The IEEE Standard 1547™-2018 establishes a nationally applicable standard that will transform how DERs function on the electric distribution system. The standard also addresses updates to technical and performance categories that will increase the intelligence of DERs and the distribution grid itself.

Making the Grid Smarter provides an overview and explanation of the major revisions in IEEE Standard 1547™-2018 and the key issues for states to consider.

“More consumers and communities than ever recognize the environmental, economic, resiliency and public-health benefits of clean energy technologies. Once widely utilized, the enhanced functionalities of Distributed Energy Resources set out by the new IEEE standard will likely enable higher penetration of DERs on the grid, while maintaining grid safety and reliability, and providing new grid and consumer benefits,” adds IREC Vice President-Regulatory Sara Baldwin.

State regulators will be tasked with formally adopting the new standard, while utilities will need to integrate them into internal interconnection protocols. In addition, DER industry representatives, technology manufacturers, state and federal agencies, national laboratories and advocates will all play key roles.

“Compared with its 2003 predecessor, IEEE Standard 1547™-2018 requires DERs to be capable of providing specific grid supportive functionalities relating to voltage, frequency, communications and controls,” explains Lydic. “With a variety of options built into the standard, a full understanding of the implications of each element of the rollout will be critical, and it may be more challenging to apply uniformly, with differences potentially based on DER system size, technology or local grid conditions.”

When broadly implemented, IEEE Standard 1547™-2018 will mean that DERs will have the ability to automatically respond to certain grid conditions. Clearly defining DER settings in statewide interconnection rules will help increase efficiency, minimize confusion and reduce costs. 

  • DERs will automatically avoid potential negative impacts and ideally, this will enable DER customers and utilities to optimize their grid benefits.
  • More DERs will be capable of connecting to the grid under higher penetration scenarios, assuming their control functions are set up adequately to accommodate the grid conditions.
  • Customers installing DERs may see shifts in their distributed generation output under certain scenarios, which might require the adoption of new consumer protection measures.
  • The interconnection process used for DERs connecting to the grid will need to be updated to reflect the new standard (and to reflect the vastly different conditions under which the grid is operating today, as compared with 2003).
  • Any current state rules and utility interconnection procedures based on IEEE Standard 1547™-2003 will need to be updated to reflect these recent revisions.

“With the IEEE Standard 1547™-2018 published and a few remaining years before full rollout (2022), now is the time for states and regulators to begin to implement the updated standard,” says IREC President/CEO Larry Sherwood. “Even in states where DER penetration is low today, this will help ensure new DERs meet the most updated performance standards while giving latitude to utilize the enhanced grid functionality as the volume of DERs increases on the grid.”

States or utilities will begin to integrate the IEEE Standard 1547™-2018 into applicable interconnection rules and tariffs voluntarily or as directed by state statute. 

“State implementation of IEEE Standard 1547™-2018 will benefit from fair, balanced and transparent stakeholder processes to ensure that the perspectives of all impacted stakeholders, including consumers adopting DERs, are accounted for and reflected,” adds Baldwin.

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