As growing amounts of distributed energy resources (DERs) are added to the electric grid, the availability and delivery of electricity is becoming more complex. Grid operators need to respond quickly to changes in supply and demand, with additional intermittent and distributed energy resources contributing to supply and demand imbalances. To address this challenge, system operators need visibility into the resource, to reliably forecast availability and, if possible, exert some limited control over the resource.
While utility distribution system operators work to accommodate more DERs, they continue to have the “obligation to serve” and the responsibility to be the “provider of last resort.” Coupling this imperative with the aforementioned challenge, utilities need to invest in distribution system infrastructure and necessary information and operations technology (IT/OT) to help dynamically manage the grid. Traditional radial topologies will transform into more complex networked systems requiring two-way communications, new controls and sensors, and new data management systems. These will aim to balance available supplies with real-time demands while managing meter-to-cash operations. Such investments are necessary for utilities to continue providing reliable and resilient electric service.