Originally envisioned to accommodate one-way power flow from a central plant to an end user, the electric grid has evolved to incorporate smaller distributed energy resources (DERs)—like solar power and battery storage systems. These resources can provide power directly to a building (if installed on-site) and/or send energy to the grid. This shift has introduced new challenges and opportunities as states and utilities address aging infrastructure and changing demands on electricity use.

A growing number of states are tackling comprehensive regulatory reforms to enable a more distributed, reliable, and cleaner electricity grid. Within these efforts, state commissions are developing more proactive approaches to distribution planning, rate structures, utility business models, and performance-based incentives that will shape the future of the grid. Grid modernization is an essential step to encourage the deployment of clean energy DERs like solar, wind, or battery storage.

IREC’s Grid Modernization Work

IREC leverages lessons learned from our multi-state experience to provide a national perspective on how to successfully undertake grid modernization efforts. Key issues include hosting capacity analysis, DER forecasting, integrated distribution planning, and interconnection. We provide input and guidance to help regulators, utilities, and other stakeholders to identify and adopt workable solutions.

A goal is to shift grid planning for renewables from a one-by-one decision making process to a more holistic approach. This will help ensure that DERs are planned, managed, and valued as an integral part of a utility’s portfolio, capable of providing reliable and cost-effective electricity for the benefit of all customers.

Grid Modernization Resources

A Playbook for Modernizing the Distribution Grid, Volume 1. Developed by IREC and GridLab, this playbook is an evaluation toolkit to help regulatory stakeholders navigate, analyze and make more informed decisions about grid modernization proposals, distribution plans and grid investments. The GridMod Playbook aims to ensure more efficient and impactful grid modernization efforts in support of state public policy goals, such as clean energy adoption, across the United States and U.S. territories.

Optimizing the Grid: A Regulator’s Guide to Hosting Capacity Analyses for Distributed Resources. This report helps guide state regulators as they oversee utilities developing hosting capacity analyses to integrate DERs on their distribution systems. Hosting capacity analyses allow utilities, regulators, and electricity customers to make more efficient and cost-effective choices about where, when, and how to deploy distributed energy resources on the grid.

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