For this issue of our newsletter, we’ve compiled a group of articles that address industry trends and exciting new innovations.

This issue highlights several new and exiting topics including the Fischer Fellowship Program, ConnectTheGrid, blockchain, retail rate redesign and more!

Dear Clients and Friends,

Regulation, evolving delivery rate models, complex integration and control of DERs, and Grid Modernization are among the topics that keep many of us awake at night. This issue touches on all of these areas. But before we get to them, I want to share something a bit more inspirational. 

While it is easy to take our drinking water for granted, many around the world do not have this luxury. Tricia Anklan, a senior consultant in our Energy & Utilities practice, recently returned from an eight-month volunteer project in Nicaragua, where she worked with EOS International to improve clean water access by installing water chlorination systems that deliver safe drinking water to more than 15,000 people. Tricia describes her work in Nicaragua—sponsored through West Monroe Partners’ Fischer Global Service Fellowship Program—and her long-standing passion for clean water that inspired her to pursue this opportunity. I hope you enjoy her article and some pictures from her work in Nicaragua.

Back to business matters… Recent legislation in Nevada has affected customers that have made investment decisions largely based on net energy metering (NEM). In light of this development, it is critical for utilities to investigate alternative rate designs and develop new solutions that adequately compensate them while not disadvantaging distributed energy resource (DER) development. Paul Augustine, manager in our Energy and Utilities practice, explores different delivery rate models in his article.

One evolving concept worth watching is the distributed communication, intelligence, and payment reconciliation in a peer-to-peer grid. The Brooklyn Microgrid demonstration project uses blockchain technology to coordinate control and payments, providing a glimpse into this potential twist on future distribution systems. Jim McClanahan, senior principal in our Energy and Utilities practice, explores the use of blockchain technology (the same technology behind bitcoin) in this Microgrid project.  

Utilities across the country are accelerating grid modernization and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) initiatives, one of the key challenges in deployment in high-rise urban areas. Edison Kociu, senior consultant and Justin Licke, experienced consultant in our Energy and Utilities practice, share some best practices for deploying AMI in the high rises that populate our urban areas. 

To close the newsletter, we spotlight West Monroe’s collaborative agreement with the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC) and State University of New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) to deliver a cutting edge set of planning and forecasting tools as part of the ConnectTheGrid™ product suite. Sean Murphy, manager in our Energy and Utilities practice, and I have teamed up on this article to provide an overview of the new product modules that will allow utilities and DER system owners and operators to plan, forecast, and control DER systems to manage energy and demand on their grid.

I hope you find these articles thought provoking and useful as you look to the future. We welcome your feedback, questions, and suggestions for future newsletter topics. 

Best regards,

Tom Hulsebosch
Senior Managing Director - Energy & Utilities
thulsebosch@westmonroepartners.com
 

Our fellowship program supports our employees’ philanthropic and humanitarian interests with an extended three to six month compensated leave. These fellowships benefit the health & wellness of the disenfranchised, aid in combating poverty, support disaster relief, and seek to educate and empower people around the world.

If someone mentions peer-to-peer sharing or Bitcoin, you would most likely assume they were talking about the Internet. But what if, instead, they were talking about the future of the electric grid and the utility industry?

Beyond the complexity of interconnecting DER systems, utilities will need to monitor these systems throughout their lifespan. West Monroe, the U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC), and State University of New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly), are working to develop the tools to effectively manage these systems to enable utilities to support greater penetrations of DER on their networks without sacrificing power quality and reliability.

Many utilities across the United States have undertaken Grid Modernization and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) programs since the launch of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. Despite the completion of several deployments, many high-rise urban areas have yet to be deployed. These areas pose a variety of challenges for utilities due to the landscape, building characteristics, radio frequency (RF) dead zones and other factors. This article highlights the challenges and the lessons learned from an AMI deployment in one of the largest urban areas of the United States.