No portion of the electric power grid has been impacted more by grid modernization (the “smart grid”) than the electric distribution system. Grid modernization is transforming distribution opera­tions from mostly manual paper-driven processes to automated computer-assisted decision making and control for distribution system optimization. A central part of this transformation is the Distribution Management System (DMS) which integrates numer­ous remote monitoring and central control facilities with enterprise level systems to optimize distribution system performance and accomplish a variety of business goals.

The EPRI paper, Integrating Smart Distributed Energy Resources with Distribution Management Systems, describes ongoing research that is exploring various ways in which the DMS can utilize distributed resources such as solar photovoltaics and battery storage more effectively and help in accomplishing the 21st century objectives of electric distribution utilities.

Here are some key takeaways from this paper:

  • There is a need to add methods for distribution to deal with distributed solar generation.
  • Smart inverter functions will need to be mapped with enterprise level systems.
  • A distributed energy resources management system can enable standard and uniform communication from DMS to distributed energy resources.
  • Open standards are emerging for standard grid-supportive functions for distributed energy resources such as PV and battery storage. For more information you can reference the DNP3 AN2011-001 and IEC 61850-90-7.
  • The grid supportive capabilities of DER must complement, not replace, existing distribution controls, such as capacitors, regulators, and switches.
  • Enterprise integration standards are needed to support Distribution Management System (DMS) and DER harmonization.
  • EPRI, DOE, and NIST have launched an initiative to accelerate developments to meet these needs. An EPRI report provides a summary from a workshop that was held on this initiative – Report #1026789.