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Best practices for managing DER portfolios from Guidehouse Insights

Sam Bleiberg

September 22, 2020

A convergence of trends is pushing utilities to turn to distributed energy resources (DERs) to meet immediate and long-term grid needs.

The widespread adoption of DERs is placing new demands on the grid and transforming the relationship between utilities and their customers. DERs such as residential solar production and storage are turning utility consumers into “prosumers” – entities that both consume and produce energy. Growth in EV charging is creating new load profiles and distribution challenges. All of this amounts to impact on the grid that utilities must manage proactively.

At the same time, increased reliance on renewable sources has utilities contending with intermittent production, intensifying the need for demand flexibility.

The rapid growth of customer-owned DERs in utility service territories and the drive for load flexibility to balance renewables have made DERs uniquely suited to satisfy an increasing list of use cases. As a result, more and more utilities are deploying a DERMS platform to unlock the benefits of grid-edge DERs.

EnergyHub works with over 50 utilities to manage their DER portfolios. We recently commissioned new research from Guidehouse Insights on what factors contribute to effective DER management.  The new whitepaper, titled Planning for a Successful iDER Strategy, contains exclusive insights, best practices, and case studies from the analysts researching DERs at Guidehouse Insights. This paper should serve as a guide for utilities that are looking to implement a cost-effective solution to scale and maximize value from their DER deployments.

You can download a free copy, and keep reading for some highlights from the whitepaper.

Download the whitepaper

Five features of a successful iDER program

iDER stands for integrated distributed energy resource, and Guidehouse Insights’ terminology points to the growing trend of utilities managing multiple classes of DERs through a single DERMS platform. Utilities today expect to manage DER portfolios across assets that are customer-owned and utility-owned, commercial and residential, in-front-of- and behind-the-meter.

From the report:

“iDER programs actively manage and meet energy demand by strategically engaging energy technologies including distributed generation (DG), energy storage, EV supply equipment, demand response (DR), and energy efficiency. By embracing continuous orchestration of the evolving suite of energy resources, iDER programs help utilities balance intermittent renewable load, defer expensive transmission and distribution capital costs, and meet other objectives…. As residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) segments adopt more behind-the-meter (BTM) technologies, iDER programs will enable utilities to address evolving customer needs.”

Having analyzed programs from utilities leading the way on DERs, the whitepaper’s authors point to five characteristics of a successful iDER strategy. You can find the full explanation and analysis of these features and why they’re important in the whitepaper.

  1. Customer-centric program design
  2. Scalable situational awareness and on-demand flexibility activation to manage an increasing amount of DERs connecting to the grid
  3. Dispatch optimization capability that syncs locational and temporal data to enable real-time optimal dispatch
  4. DER-aware forecasting to enable long-term grid planning
  5. Integration across utility systems to enable seamless interaction between grid assets

Case studies from leading utilities

EnergyHub customers are among the industry leaders in pioneering new DER strategies. Alongside Guidehouse Insights’ framework, the whitepaper contains case studies from EnergyHub customers who have deployed sophisticated DER portfolios.

Both of these clients exemplify Guide Insights’ best practices for iDER deployments. Download the whitepaper today to learn how to apply these features to your own DER strategy.

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