Senators press FERC on integrating renewables

Source: Rod Kuckro, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sixteen Democratic senators led by Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island are urging federal regulators to act quickly on advising electric grid operators on how to integrate distributed energy resources (DERs) such as renewables into their day-to-day operations.

“DER adoption and renewable energy aggregation continue to grow in the United States, driven by state and federal policies as well as consumers choosing cost-competitive innovative technologies such as smart thermostats, electric vehicles, and customer-sited energy generation and storage,” the lawmakers wrote yesterday to Kevin McIntyre, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The senators told McIntyre that DERs can help improve grid reliability and resilience, echoing a popular theme in today’s discussion of electricity policy.

The consideration of what to do about DERs was part of a proposed rule encouraging energy storage technologies. But FERC in February finalized the energy storage portion of the rule and carried over its consideration of DERs for further public comment and study.

In April, FERC held a two-day technical conference on the issue and heard from more than 50 experts (Energywire, April 9).

At the conference, “there was consensus from utilities and grid operators that without better real-time data of where DERs are located on the grid, consumers could see higher prices because generation could run when it is not needed,” said the senators’ letter.

The lawmakers told McIntyre there was also agreement “that a unified national framework accounting for these resources would be more effective” than having each grid’s operator developing its own solution.

Last year, on the day the Senate confirmed Neil Chatterjee to serve on the commission, Whitehouse and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) issued a statement commending him for agreeing that FERC “should not give short shrift to our renewable energy industry” and that the rule concerning DER integration should “not be unduly delayed.”

“I will hold him to that commitment,” they said.

This week’s letter asked for a response no later than June 15.