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Realizing the benefits of bringing utilities together to share their experiences, the Department of Energy Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (DOE|OE) Advanced Grid Research division launched an initiative to collect the experiences, insights, and lessons learned of utility representatives implementing emerging technology. The Voices of Experience (VOE) Initiative is unique in that it compiles the valuable insights and advice provided directly by utility personnel at the forefront who are working the challenges, interconnecting the new resources, and testing the emerging technology. Utilities participated in working group discussions, regional meetings and individual interviews with the purpose of sharing industry knowledge so that all utilities can better prepare for the operational challenges they face in this changing industry.

2020 Topics

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence—the development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence—is gaining traction in the electric power industry. Utilities are finding that it has potential across the utility value chain including customer operations, smart grid, outage management, asset management, supply chain and market operations to name a few. At the same time, there are barriers for utilities that will pose challenges—at least in the near term. This Voices of Experience will help utilities understand how artificial intelligence may help improve their operations, where the challenges are and what other utilities are learning through their own experience.

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Microgrids for Resiliency

Resilience – the ability to withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from utility disruptions while sustaining mission-critical operations – is increasingly a focus for utilities, policy makers, regulators, and community leaders. While some utilities own and operate microgrids to help ensure supply to critical customers and areas, customers such as the Department of Defense and corporate data centers also own and operate microgrids to prevent power disruptions and to mitigate the consequences of outages when they do occur. Whether utility or customer, owners of existing and proposed microgrids could benefit from increased dialogue about the challenges, insights, advice, and lessons learned through deploying and operating microgrids. This effort convened utilities and microgrid owners to explore how microgrids are being leveraged for resiliency including how they are designed and operated, the technologies they employ, and the business models that are emerging. A key focus is exploring the value that microgrids provide to both utilities and customers.

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Utilities participated in 7 virtual roundtables focused on various aspects of microgrids and resiliency.

Listen to one or more of these discussion summaries:

Apr 15, 2020: 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT

Multi-Stakeholder Process: What’s the Role of the Utility?
Discussion Leader: Ahmed Mousa, PSEG

Description + Listen to the interview

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Apr 21, 2020: 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT

Pilots to Programs: Developing Programs and Executing Contracts for Win-Win Microgrid Projects
Discussion Leader: John Lemire, NCEMC

Description + Listen to the interview

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Apr 29, 2020: 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT

Evaluating the Intersection of Microgrids, Renewables and Resiliency
Discussion Leader: Christina Alston, Georgia Transmission Corporation

Description + Listen to the interview

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Apr 30, 2020: 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT

Roles and Responsibilities of Utility Procurement, Contract Execution and Project Development
Discussion Leader: Adam Nygaard, Duke Energy

Description + Listen to the interview

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May 5, 2020: 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT

The Foundation for Future Microgrid Interconnection Standards
Discussion Leader: Mamadou Diong, Dominion Energy

Description + Listen to the interview

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May 6, 2020: 2:00 - 3:00 PM EDT

Partnering with the Community on Resiliency Planning for Major Disasters
Discussion Leader: Darren Murtaugh, Portland General Electric

Description + Listen to the interview

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May 13, 2020: 2:00 - 3:30 PM EDT

Microgrids as a Tool for Wildfire Resiliency
Discussion Leader: Panelists from Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Pacific Gas & Electric

Description +

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The Voices of Experience Series

AMI in Review: Informing the Conversation

Numerous utility AMI proposals have been approved over the past decade; however, recent years have seen noteworthy denials. Understanding the transformative potential of AMI but not seeking to offer an opinion on state actions, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Grid Research Division (AGR) undertook a phased research study to investigate regulatory applications from various parties’ perspective. The resulting report captures the findings and collective insights gained through an in-depth analysis of public records and conversations with more than 120 individuals from utilities, advocates, and commissions across the U.S. Download the full report: Click here.

See report summary

Download Compendium: Click Here.

Leveraging AMI Networks and Data

The original business cases for implementing an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) focused on the cost savings that could be achieved from avoided truck rolls and the end of manual meter reading. Now more than a decade since smart meters hit the industry, utilities are learning that the value of AMI goes far beyond logging energy usage. Advanced meters are end-point sensors that provide granular information on system operations enabling utilities to operate more efficiently and on customer energy usage providing opportunities to develop a new relationship with their customers. This report documents how engineers, data analysts, product developers, customer service representatives, and people throughout the organization are digging into the data, pairing it with other data, asking more questions, gaining insights and making data-driven decisions. Download the full report: Click here.

See report summary

July 11, 2019 - Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) blogs: "Beyond Billing: Unlocking Value with AMI" - Click here to read.

Integrating Intermittent Resources

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. The report documents what utilities are learning about operating differently, streamlining the interconnection process, planning and forecasting with these new resources, understanding hosting capacity, testing advanced inverters, and engaging their customers. Download the full report: Click here.

Advanced Distribution Management Systems

Today, a number of utilities are implementing advanced distribution management systems (ADMS), a software platform that integrates numerous utility systems and provides automated outage restoration and optimization of distribution grid performance. In effect, ADMS transitions utilities from paperwork, manual processes, and siloed software systems to systems with real-time and near-real-time data, automated processes, and integrated systems. The report provides practical advice to assist utilities in deploying an ADMS including insights on making the business case, defining requirements and selecting a vendor, preparing the data, integrating systems, and governing the project. Download the full report: Click here.

Smart Grid Customer Engagement

The success of the Smart Grid will depend in part on consumers taking a more proactive role in managing their energy use, and customer engagement within the electric power industry is an evolving, ongoing process. The report compiles practical advice on the successful approaches used by utilities to engage customers regarding smart grid technology deployments, and includes insights and examples about articulating the vision and guiding principles, developing a customer-centric engagement plan, developing a budget and preparing the business case. Download the full report: Click here.

Please direct your questions to Sonja Berdahl.

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The Department of Energy's Office of Electricity (OE) recognizes that our nation's sustained economic prosperity, quality of life, and global competitiveness depends on an abundance of secure, reliable, and affordable energy resources. OE leads the Department of Energy's efforts to ensure a resilient, and flexible electricity system in the United States. Learn more about OE >>

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