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Grid Architecture

Modern Distribution Grid Project


The Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (DOE-OE), in close collaboration with California, New York, District of Columbia, Hawaii and Minnesota utility regulatory commissions identified the need to develop guidance to assist in the development and evaluation of distribution grid modernization – described as a next generation distribution system platform.

This effort intends to inform decision-makers interested in pursuing grid modernization on any or all of the following goals: a) reliability, safety and operational efficiency, b) enabling customer adoption of distributed energy resources (DER), and c) the utilization of DER as non-wires alternatives. A key objective of the collaboration is to gain a consistent understanding of the functional and technological requirements that facilitate the adoption of a widely applicable set of technologies for planning and operations that meet each states' objectives for grid modernization. It is recognized that each jurisdictions' procedural paths and policy decisions will vary and as such the work plan that emerges should consider priorities for mutual efforts while respecting jurisdictional differences. The organizational structure of this initiative allows for other states to engage over the course of the effort.

DOE-OE, with the sponsoring commissions, has brought together a team with industry expertise in the areas of grid planning, operations, market design, related technologies, and policy to support this effort. This initiative also draws from a range of existing technical documents, policy papers, and thought pieces addressing grid modernization and incorporates feedback from leading experts following multiple rounds of industry review.

Modern Distribution Grid Report

The U.S. DOE is working with state regulators, the utility industry, energy services companies and technology developers to determine the functional requirements for a modern distribution grid that are needed to enhance reliability, resiliency and operational efficiency, and integrate and utilize DER. DER as used in this report includes distributed generation, distributed energy storage, energy efficiency, demand response and electric vehicles.

The Modern Distribution Grid Report is a four-volume set that is intended to develop a consistent understanding of requirements to inform investments in grid modernization. The requirements include those needed to support grid planning, operations and markets. Volume I, "Customer and State Driven Functionality" provides a taxonomy of functional requirements derived from state policy objectives, and includes a discussion of grid architecture. Volume II, "Advanced Technology Maturity Assessment," examines the maturity of technology needed to enable the functions presented in Volume I. Volume III is a "Decision Guide" that presents considerations for the rational implementation of advanced distribution system functionality. Volume IV provides guidance on strategy and implementation of grid modernization plans.

Volume I

Volume I defines the functional scope for a modern grid platform. This functional articulation employs a taxonomy framework to logically organize the required capabilities and functions based on states' grid modernization policy objectives and related system attributes based on policy papers and sponsoring commissions' input. This volume also includes grid architecture context, comparative assessment of industry architectural applications and priority use case scenarios identified by the sponsoring state commissions. Volume I extensively uses existing industry references and has undergone industry peer review from a representative group of utilities, DER service providers, technology firms and research organizations.

Download Volume I: Customer and State Policy Driven Functionality
Download revised Volume I: Objective Driven Functionality

Volume II

Volume II consists of a taxonomy of technologies in relation to functions and elements identified in Volume I. This provides the basis for a survey of current commercial technology availability and development. The market assessment identifies the gaps between existing commercial technologies and the needed grid functions and elements to implement specific aspects of a modern grid. This volume also identifies functionality gaps regarding related technical standards and protocols.

Download Volume II: Advanced Technology Market Assessment
Download revised Volume II: Advanced Technology Maturity Assessment

Volume III

Volume III, or the Decision Guide, aims to provide a user guide for the application of the Volume I taxonomy in support of decisions related to the implementation of modern grid functionality. This guide reflects key practical implementation considerations, such as drivers, timing, pre-requisite technologies, legacy transitions, technology adoption and deployment approaches. This volume provides example applications based on the state commissions' scenarios identified in Volume I.

Download Volume III: Decision Guide

Volume IV

Volume IV, the Strategy and Implementation Guidebook, serves as a reference document for regulators at the state and community levels who are involved in directing or approving grid modernization plans prepared by utilities. This Guidebook presents four key concepts to consider within modern-day distribution system planning processes: well-articulated objectives, the larger integrated distribution planning process, using a systems engineering approach, and proportional deployment strategies. The planning guidance in this volume resulted from numerous discussions with both regulators and utilities, with the intention of formulating a consistent set of practices that can facilitate discussions and decisions between both stakeholders.

Download draft Volume IV


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