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Nevada Closer to Ensuring Electric Grid Better Integrates Distributed Energy Resources

 

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The Silver State took another important step forward to adopt innovative and forward-thinking regulatory reforms that will enable more clean energy on the grid.

After many months of deliberation and input from stakeholders, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission adopted a framework for the state's newly required investor-owned utilities' Distribution Resource Plans (DRP), which will determine what resources and grid upgrades the utilities will need to make to meet consumer demand for electricity. By integrating a thoughtful framework to ensure full consideration of clean, distributed energy resources - such as energy storage and rooftop solar - the commission's decision ensures these resources will be optimized as a more integrated component of the grid.

Starting in 2019, NV Energy (NVE) will be required to file these 3-year distribution plans as part of their triennial integrated resource plans, which will allow periodic opportunities for stakeholders to review, refine and determine the grid needs.

Over the past year, IREC, Vote Solar, and Western Resource Advocates participated alongside NVE, the Bureau of Consumer Protection and commission staff as part of the rulemaking to implement Senate Bill 146 - a bill that aimed to evaluate locational costs and benefits of distributed resources by adding the new DRP requirement for utilities.

"IREC appreciates the commission's forward-thinking approach to this process and setting forth a strong framework for Nevada's distribution resource planning," said IREC Regulatory Director Sara Baldwin Auck. "Nevada's work will ensure consumer-driven clean energy resources are integrated and optimized on the grid for years to come."

"A well-executed Distribution Resource Plan has the potential to create substantial benefits for families and businesses by leveraging solar, storage and demand response technologies in locations that will make the electric grid run more affordably and reliably," said Ed Smeloff, director of grid integration at Vote Solar. "With the new regulations, Nevada is putting itself on the leading edge in Distribution Resource Planning."

"Western Resource Advocates applauds the commission for crafting a strong and thoughtful framework to meet Nevadans' increasing demand for independent renewable energy resources, like rooftop solar and battery storage," said Robert Johnston, a senior staff attorney in Western Resource Advocates' Nevada office. "The commission's thorough process encouraged broad participation and collaboration by all stakeholders, and the provisions adopted today (9/26) will help ensure that consumers can take full advantage of the benefits of using distributed clean energy resources to power our economy."

The results from the collaborative effort established these principal components of the Nevada DRP process: 

  • load and distributed energy resource (DER) forecasting;
  • locational net benefit analysis (LNBA) to identify high- and low-value grid locations for DER solutions;
  • grid needs assessment (GNA) to prioritize and screen projects that will address identified grid needs; and
  • hosting capacity analysis (HCA) to identify the available capacity for DER at particular points on the distribution network.

These four components will operate in tandem with the DRP. Each must function on its own as well as in conjunction with each other to ensure the DRP properly addresses identified grid needs with distributed energy resources and traditional resource solutions.

Following the commission's direction, stakeholders submitted mostly consensus-based regulatory language in June 2018, with alternative provisions suggested by IREC, WRA and Vote Solar to improve certain aspects of the HCA and forecasting components. The recommendations focused on ensuring sufficient detail in the hosting capacity analysis to ensure it will serve its central purpose in the DRP, as well as in the interconnection process under NV Energy's Rule 15.

The commission's decision also reflects recommendations to strengthen the public process around approval of the hosting capacity analysis and to bring the utility closer to "real time" HCA updating. More frequent updating of the HCA is critical to assist with DER interconnections under Rule 15. 

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