Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) is an ambitious and comprehensive energy strategy for New York that requires significant technology investments by utilities. At the highest level the aim is to help consumers make better and more informed energy choices, enable the development of new energy products and services, protect the environment and create new jobs and economic opportunity. Last week, on June 30th, New York’s six investor-owned utilities filed their first five year distributed system implementation plans (DSIPs) and a key part of this filing was the technology roadmaps that the power companies will be investing in to facilitate a transition to the Utility of the Future. While it is true that these plans are an early conceptualization of the foundational and functional requirements that will be necessary to support REV, they do provide the first insights into the technology roadmaps utilities are preparing.

Looking at the largest Utility in NY, Con Edison, and their technology plans that will support their REV goals, such as adding approximately 800 megawatts of DERs by 2020, we see the technical roadmaps that a utility needs to implement to support enhanced capabilities to manage a diverse portfolio of DER and fully meet system needs for operations and planning.

Investments in Technology Platforms

For Con Ed, the initial technology investments will focus on building the necessary technology interfaces to engage customers, increase the volume and granularity of data, and enable greater DER penetration. Their plan is to pursue these functions in a phased and iterative approach, addressing the near term requirements of a DSP over the five-year scope. In their DSIP filing, Con Ed suggest that the following key technology platforms to support DER integration will likely include:

  • DER Management System, to manage diverse distributed energy resources on Con Ed’s network as well as understanding the unique status and capabilities of each and present these capabilities to other applications.
  • Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI), will be implemented by Con Ed from 2017 through to 2022. Including the other utilities, AMI will be a major cost component to achieve REV and it is estimated that the 20-year cost benefit projection will total $603 million in cost, $736 million in savings and benefits, for a net value of $133 million. As with other AMI deployments across the country the lion’s share of the savings are operational, however another significant benefit component is predicated on the adoption of time-variant pricing buy customers – to the sum of $73.5 million.
  • Enterprise-Level Mapping Solution (GIS): An enterprise-wide GIS platform to replace current mapping systems that are siloed and function-specific. Appropriate localization and visualization of DERs system-wide will help realize maximum benefits of the evolving DSP and the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI).
  • Data Analytics Solution: An IT platform to store various aspects of DER data for analytical and operational purposes. Initially, Con Ed is expecting that this platform would be populated with interval meter data from DER providers. Extensions would incorporate data streams from other devices (such as voltage from existing Remote Monitoring System Data and other utility owned SCADA and/or third party devices).
  • State Estimator achieved via a load flow model, Con Ed is planning for the model to perform power flow analysis and voltage drop calculations with accurate and reliable results.
  • Communication Infrastructure: As with other utilities, Con Ed asserts that the transition to real-time, automated distribution management will require internet-like speeds throughout the communication network while handling increased volumes of data. In the long term, as the Company assumes the role of a DSO, performance and latency requirements may require a more robust, dedicated communication network.
  • Cyber Security Architecture: Cyber security protocols, policies, hardware, and software architecture must be able to support the real-time system with communications in milliseconds. 

Figure - Con Edison REV Enabling Technologies

Technology enabling Utility of The Future Capability

As with the other utilities in the State, Con Ed’s technology roadmap is focused on satisfying the key objectives of REV such as providing customers with more choices in their energy supply, collecting and sharing much more granular customer data, achieving increased visibility and automation across the system, integrating DER into forecasting and planning in order to encourage third-party investment and defer traditional capital investment (Non Wires Alternatives - NWAs) and operating a dynamic two-way grid in a manner that encourages DER deployment. To achieve these capabilities and others, Con Ed has identified specific technology needs mapped to capabilities, including: 

  • Forecasting Technology Needs - Annual system peak demand, annual network peak demand, daily network peak demand, 1-10-Day ahead system forecast and energy sendout
  • Planning Technology Needs - Integration of DER into circuit planning analysis, integration of BCA into planning process and determination of areas that can benefit from DER / NWA
  • Hosting Capacity Technology Needs - Visualization solution for an interactive map that can be ‘drilled down’, including radial system and periodic updates and a dynamic system tool that is integrated with the DER Management System, interconnection queue, and the mapping system
  • Monitoring and Control Technology Needs - Monitoring and dispatch / control of large DER, monitoring and aggregation / dispatch of small DER, switching plans and real-time contingency analysis, FLISR (Fault location, isolation and service restoration), utility battery dispatch, demand response management, NWA solution management
  • Interconnection Technology Needs - Online application tool and portal with automated status communications, automated technical review (preliminary and supplemental), queue management and integration into planning process
  • VVO Technology Needs - Real-time VVO, automated CVO and additional voltage monitoring devices
  • Data Sharing Technology Needs - Individual customer access and sharing of data, providing customer data to third parties, System data sharing. Con Ed note that their Digital Customer Experience (DCX) project will enhance the customer’s ability to obtain, share, and utilize energy usage information by providing customers with critical information, tools, and analytics. 

It must be said that across all of the REV technology roadmaps submitted by New York's utilities on June 30th, these plans are subject to change and modification as time and circumstances evolve in this new utility environment. Indeed, as Con Ed rightly observe in their filling, the pace of technology development and required investment will be driven by the rate of DER penetration and the availability of resources required to implement each technology solution. However, what is clear at this stage is that these technology efforts are a huge investment and undertaking and quantifying the overall value of these investments and the value of a dynamic grid in NY will be examined in a separate filing. From a technology perspective, more detailed information will be provided on November 1st, when the utilities jointly file a supplemental DSIP. For now though, what is clear, is that New York’s utilities are about to embark on ambitious, holistic and market leading technology journeys.  

Click here to read the DSIPs