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Voices of Experience: Integrating Intermittent Resources - What Utilities are Learning

July 15, 2017

U.S. Department of Energy

National Renewable Energy Laboratory


From Hawaii to New York utilities are preparing their systems for a growing penetration of customer-sited generation. They are testing and adopting new technology designed to provide better visibility and control; collecting and interpreting the increasing amounts of data needed to plan, forecast, and model their future systems; and focusing on their customers-listening and responding like never before-plus streamlining their processes to enable faster interconnections with more transparency. Because no matter where they are now, utilities know that in the future, they will be operating differently.

Realizing the benefits of bringing utilities together to share their experiences, the Department of Energy"s Office of Energy Delivery and Electricity Reliability assembled a working group of utility representatives to collect the experiences, insights, and lessons learned from integrating intermittent resources on the distribution grid. (More information on the working group is included in Appendix A.) The working group participated in a series of topic-based discussions and regional meetings where the utilities at the forefront of this transition provided valuable insight into the challenges, solutions, and lessons learned from integrating variable generation. The purpose of the Voices of Experience | Integrating Intermittent Resources is to share that knowledge with the industry to enable utilities to better prepare for the operational challenges they face.

One of the initial insights from this project is that utilities large and small - and from across the country-are interested in this topic. Even those with very little customer-sited generation recognized that these resources will be a growing part of their generation mix going forward, whether because of state policies or growing customer interest. These utilities wanted to be proactive by discussing challenges and successes, and learning from others so they could prepare for the future. And the main message from the utilities on the leading edge: Start preparing now.

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