New York’s Rochester Gas and Electric testing use of DER to solve grid challenges

Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS) and Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E), supported by $200,000 funding from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA), have partnered on a project that informs the potential of leveraging modern Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) to provision grid services like reactive power dispatch for local voltage support.

The methodology was applied in simulation to a real-world circuit of RG&E – an AVANGRID subsidiary – to fuel technical and financial learnings, aiming to inform utility expansion strategies on the technical aspects surrounding the provisioning and control of distribution grid services, and the financial approaches that can animate a viable reactive power market.

The reactive power market dynamically balances supply and demand using SGS’s Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) solutions, ANM Strata and ANM Element; which enable the connection of clean energy producers to the grid.

Mark Jaggassar, Director of Grid Analytics at SGS said: “This project is significant because it shows how modern DERs can be utilized to solve grid challenges and so enable their own proliferation. Decarbonizing our electricity grid will introduce new localized challenges, and we’ll need to fuse the latest technology with the right market incentives to unlock a clean grid.

“DERs can do more than we give them credit for, and this study shows how they can be better suited to our increasingly dynamic grid than what is in our conventional toolkit. Exploring how we can enable these capabilities at scale will accelerate our tradition to a clean grid.”

The project focused on two scenarios. First, the Spencerport grid was assessed with 1.65 MegaVolt-Ampere Reactive (MVAr) of fixed capacitor banks providing conventional voltage support by delivering constant reactive power with the DERs dynamically meeting the reactive power needs of the local loads. The two reactive power sources resulted in an additional 10.4 GigaVolt-Ampere Hour (GVArh) of total annual reactive power backfeed being measured.

In the second scenario, the fixed capacitor banks were removed from the model to analyze the impact of relying solely on modern DERs for reactive power support. In this scenario, the DERs were able to dynamically support the grid while maintaining a power factor of 0.97 at the substation, effectively replacing the capacitors and avoiding the excessive reactive power backfeed resulting from the first scenario.

These results demonstrate the potential of modern DERs to provide an alternative to traditional grid assets while also tackling the climate emergency and helping New York move towards its 2050 net zero and Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) targets.

Christopher Cheng, Smart Grid Senior Project Manager at NYSERDA said: “Utilizing all capabilities of technologies is needed to make the electric power grid smart and responsive.  

“Innovations like this that produce mutual benefits for utility operators and DER developers provide the foundation that can revolutionize the efficiency, reliability, resiliency, quality, and overall performance of the electric system, helping move us closer to achieving Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading climate and clean energy goals.”

Bob Manning, Program Director, Smart Grids Innovation and Planning at AVANGRID said: “This project was a crucial first step for RG&E and AVANGRID to become the Distributed System Platform Provider of the future. Agility and collaboration are foundational values that we support, and this work is an example of our commitment to building a cleaner energy future. It was an honor to collaborate with SGS on this effort and we look forward to building upon the valuable lessons learned.”


January’s DISTRIBUTECH Plus series focuses on Grid Modernization and Energy Storage and includes a session specifically related to how DER can provide grid stabilization services. Learn about DISTRIBUTECH plus here. Register to see the full list of sessions being offered in January.

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