Settlement Reached Which Would Allow PPL Electric To Actively Manage The Grid Support Functions Of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) Owned By Customers, Including Volt/VAR And Remote On/Off
October 6, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
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PPL Electric Utilities Corporation ('PPL Electric', 'PPL', or the 'Company'), the Office of
Consumer Advocate ('OCA'), the Natural Resources Defense Council ('NRDC'), and the
Sustainable Energy Fund ('SEF') has entered into a settlement that would, under a pilot basis, allow PPL to actively manage the grid support functions of inverters placed on DERs owned by third parties, using the DER management devices owned by PPL
Under the settlement, which remains subject to PUC approval, effective January 1, 2021, new DERs interconnecting with the Company’s
distribution system must have smart inverters installed that meet: (1) Underwriters Laboratories
('UL') Standard 1741 Supplement A ('UL 1741 SA'); and (2) the Company’s testing for the communications requirements under the 2018 revisions to the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers ('IEEE') Standard 1547, 'Standard for Interconnection and Interoperability
of Distributed Energy Resources with Associated Electric Power Systems Interfaces' ('IEEE
Standard 1547' or 'IEEE 1547-2018') (the "Interim Requirements"). "The Company shall undertake its testing processes in an
expeditious matter [sic] so as not to delay DER interconnections," the settlement states
Per the settlement, the Interim Requirements shall be used by PPL Electric until January 1, 2022. At
that point, the Company will transition to requiring new DERs to have smart inverters installed
that meet IEEE 1547-2018 and have been certified with IEEE 1547.1 / UL 1741 Supplement B
('UL 1741 SB').
The settlement’s provisions requiring the installation of smart inverters and DER
management devices shall not apply to DER installations whose interconnection applications are
submitted to PPL Electric before January 1, 2021. The Company reserves the right to propose in
a future proceeding that its DER Management Plan be required for existing DERs. All of the Joint
Petitioners reserve their rights to oppose such a proposal and to raise any arguments in opposition
The smart inverters that are installed consistent with the settlement
must have one of their communications ports dedicated to use by PPL Electric. In the event that
the customer’s DER requires two communications ports to operate (such as in a solar plus battery
storage set-up), PPL Electric will provide a three-communications port solution at no direct cost
to that customer.
PPL Electric shall not be responsible for purchasing, owning, installing, or
maintaining the customers’ smart inverters.
Notably, under the settlement, PPL shall be authorized to conduct a pilot program ('pilot' or 'pilot
program') to test and evaluate: (1) the costs and benefits to distribution system operation and
design of monitoring DERs through devices connected to inverters as compared to maintaining
distribution system status visibility through other means (e.g., automated meter reading equipment,
ADMS systems, modeling); and (2) the costs and benefits to distribution system operation of active
management of DERs as compared to the benefits available through the use of inverter
autonomous grid support functions.
The pilot program will begin on January 1, 2021, and will end
three years after a second control group is established (discussed below). The three
years after the second control group is established will be referred to as Program Year 1, Program
Year 2, and Program Year 3.
During the pilot program, the Company shall be authorized to purchase and install
DER management devices on all new DER with inverters installed under Paragraphs 48 and 49,
up to an annual limit of 3,000 DER management devices. DERs installed above the annual limit
shall not be part of the pilot program. All DER management devices shall be owned, operated,
and maintained by the Company at no direct cost to interconnecting customers. The annual cap on the number of DER management devices will not be an annual cap on the number of new DERs
that can be interconnected with the Company’s distribution system.
Two control groups for the remote active management pilot program shall be
established. The first group shall include any DERs connected during the pilot program to the first
75 circuits for which interconnection applications are received by the Company on or after January
1, 2021. The second group shall include the first 1,000 new DERs installed in the Company’s
service territory on or after January 1, 2021. DERs connected during the pilot program in the first
group shall count toward the 1,000 DERs in the second group. After the second group comprises
1,000 DERs, DERs interconnected to the first 75 circuits will still be added to the first group. For
both control groups, DER inverters will operate under autonomous settings only. While the
Company may monitor DER operations in the control group by collecting data through the DER
management devices, the Company shall not make operational decisions regarding the distribution
system based on that information. For DERs that are not part of the control groups, the Company
shall be permitted to actively manage the grid support functions of DER inverters using the DER management devices and the Company’s DERMS [Distributed Energy Resources Management System] and may make operational decisions based on
DER operational information obtained through the DER management devices.
For all new DERs interconnected with the Company’s distribution system after
January 1, 2021, Volt/VAR shall be used as the default voltage management mode for all inverters,
and the Company shall establish default Volt/VAR settings. The Company shall also establish
default settings for voltage ride-through and frequency ride-through functions consistent with PJM
Interconnection LLC’s ('PJM') standards.
For DERs in the remote active management group, the Company may only manage
the following grid support functions of the smart inverters: (1) Volt/VAR; (2) Constant Power
Factor; (3) Remote On/Off; (4) Voltage Ride-through; (5) Frequency Ride-through; and (6)
Volt/Watt. Volt/VAR shall be the default voltage management mode for all actively controlled
inverters. Volt-Watt may only be enabled and managed with the consent of the interconnecting
customer. Settings for voltage ride-through and frequency ride-through shall be maintained in
accordance with PJM’s standards. PPL Electric will only use the Remote On/Off function on
battery storage or solar systems that have not safely isolated or 'islanded' from the distribution
system: (1) in emergency situations, such as a gas leak or fire in the vicinity of the DER; or (2)
during a power outage.
The settlement provides that monitoring and/or management of DER inverters by the Company during the pilot
program shall not be used to enable the Company to offer services in PJM wholesale markets.
Monitoring and/or management of DER inverters by the Company during the pilot program to
support distribution grid services beyond system safety and reliability (e.g., conservation voltage reduction) shall only be permitted after separate application by the Company and approval by the
Commission. Monitoring and/or management of inverters by DER customers or third parties
during the pilot program to offer services in PJM wholesale markets, or to offer distribution grid
services as such might be established during the pilot program, will be permitted subject to any
limitations caused by the Company’s management of the inverters to manage distribution system
safety and reliability as part of the pilot program.
Within 30 days after the Commission enters an Order approving this Settlement,
PPL Electric will file a detailed plan at this docket explaining how the Company will implement
and conduct the pilot program ('Pilot Implementation Plan'), including the goals of the pilot
program, the use cases the Company plans to test and evaluate, the specific methods and
approaches for testing each use case, the methods by which PPL Electric will communicate the
pilot program’s requirements to customers and DER installers, and any additional information PPL
Electric believes is necessary