NRECA to Test Integration of Renewable Energy on the Grid

June 14, 2016 – The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association has joined with a coalition of energy technology partners to create a tool for developing and testing what could be a critical component of the future electrical grid.

Led by Atlanta-based ProsumerGrid, Inc., the group signed a $3-million contract with the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, this month, to develop software that will test the effectiveness of Distribution System Operators. Various forms of DSOs are being considered in many states as a way to integrate and manage the proliferation of distributed energy sources on the grid, including solar, wind and stored energy.

The team will develop a Distribution System Operator Simulation Studio (DSOSS) that “aims to simulate how these new control and pricing schemes would work before they are rolled out,” said David Pinney, analytics program manager in NRECA’s Business and Technology Strategies department.

Despite the emerging popularity of DSOs, there is at present no software tool that can simulate and test their potential impact on the physical grid or on market operations. “It does not exist,” said ProsumerGrid in a news release.

Other members of the research and design team include Southern California Edison, Newport Consulting, New York State Smart Grid Consortium and ICF International. Work on the project is to begin in the next week or two.

If the project succeeds, integrating renewable energy resources into the grid could become easier, Pinney said.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.