Distributed Energy Resources

DEED funded projects include EVs, floating solar arrays, blockchain

The board of directors for the American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Developments (DEED) program has approved $720,692 in grant funding awarded to 11 projects at the Spring 2018 DEED Board Meeting. The funding will be used to pursue a wide variety of research projects such as EV adoption, grid friendly building design, floating solar arrays and blockchain. Sixty five percent of the projects submitted received some level of funding support through a DEED grant.

Details on the projects are as follows:

American Municipal Power: Ohio-based American Municipal Power, Inc.’s (AMP) primary objective of its project is to help identify opportunities and mitigate challenges faced by its 135 member communities. AMP will partner with the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), to develop a Public Power EV Planning Toolkit and accompanying Guidebook. These resources will allow users to conduct preliminary economic analyses assessing municipal EV fleet options and provide insight into the potential budgetary impacts of increased EV adoption by utility customers.

The Toolkit will be the platform for the utility economic analyses for municipal EV fleet and customer EV adoption scenarios. It will be developed in Microsoft Excel to help ensure widespread compatibility among municipal and public power utilities. Default values for key assumptions will be incorporated into the Toolkit while also allowing users the capability to adjust these values to reflect data that is specific for their service territory.

In evaluating the potential economic impacts to municipal utilities from customer EV adoption, three specific use cases will be considered: 1) Fixed Rate Tariff -- A fixed, or flat-rate tariff representative of a typical residential rate structure will serve as the default and baseline; 2) TOU Tariff -- A generic Time-Of-Use (TOU) tariff and the associated impacts on customer EV charging behavior will be included;  and 3) EV Managed Charging -- A utility-implemented EV managed charging option will also be incorporated into the model to help quantify potential benefits including avoided transmission and capacity charges and delayed or avoided distribution upgrades driven by higher penetration rates of residential EVs.

Austin Energy: Texas-based Austin Energy received funding for the “GridOptimal Initiative: A New Rating System for Building-Grid Interactions.” The New Buildings Institute (NBI) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) are launching a collaborative three-year grid edge initiative. Austin Energy will be a member of a team of utilities, governments, industry, and other clean-energy leaders who will advise and support this project.

Building-scale distributed generation technologies are critical components of the emerging clean energy market. Utilities are already struggling with the impacts of high-performance buildings and building-scale renewables on the power grid. However, at the building level there is a real lack of knowledge and incentive to encourage grid-friendly design and operation, even though buildings built today may interact with the grid for a century or more. Passive design strategies, energy efficiency, thermal energy storage, batteries, distributed renewables, electric vehicle charging stations, demand response, and green power are all being encouraged and incentivized by electric utilities without a precise understanding of their potential value to utilities or a clear pathway to utilize behind-the-meter building assets.

At the heart of the GridOptimal Initiative’s rating system is a quantitative metric, called the GridOptimal score. This is used to describe a building’s interaction or harmonization with the grid. Buildings with features that mitigate demand during peak hours or productively use demand during times of low demand will receive good GridOptimal scores. Conversely, buildings exhibiting relatively high demand during peak hours, or that exacerbate oversupply events (by exporting power when there is little demand on the grid) will receive poor GridOptimal scores. Intermittent and unpredictable distributed energy generation may also contribute to a poor score.

The initiative’s aim is twofold:

1) To provide standards, tools, and guidance to improve building-grid interactions in the built environment by empowering utilities, regulators, building owners, architects, and engineers with a dedicated building metric and rating system to harmonize the grid.

2) To provide a standard format for electric utilities to define preferred customer interactions, improve building-grid harmonization, re-define “electrical service,” and unlock new revenue streams.

Braintree Electric Light Department: The Massachusetts-based utility will study the technical aspects and hurdles of installing a floating solar array in the Northeast. The need to understand the effects that wind loads and freezing conditions would have on the ability to install a floating solar array will be explored along with the need to understand the advantages of a floating solar array including the cooling effects on the panels that could help with maximizing their output, and limiting evaporation of the water beneath the solar array which could conserve water for the town.

Burlington Electric Department: The Vermont-based utility will be using dynamic blockchain market incentives to explore reducing capacity and energy costs for utilities.  In a wholesale market system such as ISO-New England, under traditional utility rates, (or even perhaps most rate structures), there are times where the marginal cost to serve retail load will exceed the retail revenues from that load.  This project proposes to combine price signals, the probability of occurrence of key cost causation events, customer based bidding, and optimization algorithms to allow customers to more intelligently choose when to use electricity, while still being served under a fairly traditional rate structure.

Burlington Electric Department (BED) will work alongside Omega Grid (OG) to design and deploy an opt-in blockchain market incentive program. The program will encourage commercial and industrial load reduction or generation in response to wholesale market cost drivers (including anticipated monthly peak-based transmission and annual peak based capacity charges). The project will run for 6-months with an option for BED to extend and/or expand the program. To facilitate this program, BED will employ OG’s utility financial market software.

City of Watonga Public Works Authority: Watonga is a small community in Oklahoma with approximately 1,500 electric residential and commercial meters. It will be converting to an AMI system for both electric and water meters beginning in May of 2018.  The new AMI system will provide residential and commercial electric usage in 15-minute intervals. Watonga will then leverage this interval data to provide customers with insight into how they use electricity in their home and/or business, including which day of the week and which hours of the day they tend to use the most electricity.

Emerald People’s Utility District: Emerald People’s Utility District (EPUD) in Oregon is partnering with The Energy Authority, Inc. (TEA), a wholesale energy management company owned by public power utilities, to develop a flexible advanced analytics platform that pairs valuable Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) data and other data sources with machine learning algorithms to realize the goals of EPUD’s strategic plan.  These goals include partnering with customers, becoming the energy services provider of choice, and remaining superior to their IOU predecessor.  The EPUD AMI Connected Analytics Platform will collect voltage and energy usage data from their AMI meter provider’s head-end software on a regularly scheduled basis.  It will perform verification, estimation, and editing functions and pair this meter data with their GIS system data.  Once paired, this information will be stored in a Common Information Model format in Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure.  Microsoft Azure will serve as secure offsite backup of their AMI data, utilizing government grade security configurations. 

Marblehead Municipal Light Department: The Massachusetts-based utility will be creating an optimized renewable energy plan, utilizing NREL REopt computer modeling. In 2015 the Marblehead Municipal Light Department (MMLD) Board saw the need for adding new carbon free power generation facilities and/or new carbon free power purchase agreements.

The complexity in creating a sound carbon free power plan was recognized, given the: (1) multiple renewable energy and storage technologies available, (2) multiple business models for buying and selling power, (3) multiple renewable energy credits available, and (4) strong desire to avoid costly and time-consuming missteps, as seen in other Massachusetts  communities.

Thus the Board worked to create a clear, analytically rigorous, and customer-transparent plan, that delivers cost-competitive reliable power, from new environmentally responsible sources. In 2016 it began to proactively solicit input from multiple public and private organizations with technical, financial and project expertise.

In 2017 MMLD began a dialog with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). The discussions evolved into a formal proposal by NREL to the MMLD Board that included: (1) a detailed review of NREL's considerable expertise, and (2) a four-task proposal in response to the objectives identified by the Board. MMLD wants to move forward as soon as possible, on the first two tasks proposed by NREL: (1) An Assessment of Renewable Energy & Storage Techno-Economic Feasibility and (2) Emerging Technologies Evaluation.

For task one, NREL will conduct a screening to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of potential renewable energy  and storage opportunities in Marblehead, and prioritize potential technologies and associated locations to meet varying renewable energy  goals. This task will help MMLD to understand the economics of achieving different penetrations of renewable energy.

NREL will evaluate opportunities for solar photovoltaics (PV), wind (onshore and offshore), ground source heat pumps (GSHP), and battery storage.

For the second task, NREL will identify up to ten emerging technologies that may be good candidates for demonstrations in Marblehead, such as building energy efficiency measures, wind power, or ocean power.  NREL will outline the expected costs and potential energy generation of each technology, and target the top three for MMLD’s consideration. If MMLD elects to conduct a technology demonstration, NREL can support measurement and verification (M&V) of the technology under a future contract.

Navajo Tribal Utility Authority: The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) in Arizona proposes to conduct research to explore options to connect Navajo Nation members to its electric distribution network. NTUA will explore several options to survey and assess, within the Navajo Nation, the feasibility to electrify its Navajo Nation members. NTUA will conduct three feasibility studies to address the difficulties of providing electric line extension construction projects on the Navajo Nation.

The first part of this study will make direct contact with all 110 Navajo Nation Chapters on the Navajo Nation. An extensive marketing campaign will gain an accurate model of how many Navajo Nation members are without electricity. The goal of this first study is to inform, identify and involve customers interested in receiving electric grid power.

The second part of the study will survey the NTUA service area to examine the technical feasibility and commercial viability of connecting Navajo Nation members to the NTUA transmission and distribution network.

The third part of the study will focus on how to connect the remaining members that are not feasible to be connected to the NTUA electric distribution grid.

To support its efforts to provide the Navajo Nation a sustainable, reliable and affordable source of electricity, NTUA proposes this three-part survey to assess customer needs, identify the right solution for each customer, and implement mutual aid concepts and innovative technology to electrify the Navajo Nation.

Riverside Public Utilities (California): The aim of this project is to fabricate and deploy multiple soiling test stations across Southern California to investigate the effectiveness of inducing a high DC voltage bias as a method for performing autonomous and active prevention of soiling (dirt build-up) in solar PV panels. This method has the potential for significantly reducing soiling levels and mitigating the cementation of dirt particles and organics. The reduction in soiling levels and mitigation of cementation will improve power output (kW) and overall energy production (kWh) of solar PV systems. The proposed approach will enhance overall performance and reduce the cost per unit of produced energy ($/kWh).

Silicon Valley Power (California): Several utilities have provided incentives for ductless mini-split (DHP) units, with most homeowners adding one indoor unit in a central living area.  However, post-installation studies have shown that these units are not reaching their full potential. Evidence suggests most of this is because the previous existing heating system continues to operate in parallel with the DHP.  Energy savings associated with a better control solution for both systems could recover 20-60% of the lost savings.

This project will work to identify, evaluate and demonstrate improved energy savings from a DHP system from several cost-effective control solutions. The desired outcome is to provide one or more cost-effective control solutions that would provide good utility DHP program enhancements. These solutions would limit unnecessary use of pre-existing heating system operation and increase the fraction of the load carried by the more efficient DHP system.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), in partnership with Silicon Valley Power, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Project, Washington State University and Efficiency Solutions, will model, and experimentally test, and determine potential savings in other climates for three cost-effective control solutions for DHP systems in existing homes with other equipment.

Silicon Valley Power: Frontier Energy is working with PG&E and the California Energy Commission (CEC) to measure and verify the energy savings potential from a variety of commercial kitchen plug load equipment. The scope of the project includes solicitation of test sites, monitoring of baseline electrical plug load consumption, and analysis of collected data. Nine test sites are included in the study, but Frontier Energy found that additional sites are needed in order to strengthen the appliance categories. Some types of equipment have only been found at a single site of the nine test sites, so additional data on multiple pieces of the same equipment is needed. This project will expand on the study currently underway by including up to ten additional sites.

Initial field data shows that commercial foodservice plug load equipment has a wide range of energy intensity based on the type of operation and operating hours. Cumulative energy savings for all plug load equipment can be substantial, but not all plug load equipment replacements can generate enough savings to justify the cost of replacement for an individual restaurant owner.

This project will provide a market study to evaluate energy consumption and energy efficiency potential of unhooded commercial food service plug-load appliances. It will provide real-world case studies of the successful implementation of efficient plug load appliances, and provide behavioral training to maximize the energy savings potential of energy-saving modes in the equipment.

Baseline energy consumption will be established by submetering the existing commercial plug load appliances with commercial-grade electric meters. After identifying the best energy efficiency opportunities, potential will be quantified through either operator behavioral changes and controls or replacement of baseline appliances with equipment featuring energy-saving technologies. The goal of the project is to collect a large breadth of energy usage data for appliance categories which have previously been under-researched due to lower energy consumption in comparison with larger, ventilated commercial kitchen equipment.

The objective of the baseline study is to characterize the energy usage profiles for a variety of unventilated, commercial plug load cooking appliances.

Additional information about the DEED program is available here.