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December 13, 2019 | DERMS

Utilities share their DER priorities and perspectives at HubSummit 2019

Aakriti Gupta
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Last week, EnergyHub hosted its second annual user conference in New York, bringing together clients and partners from across the country. The audience included dozens of utilities and multiple partners that represent the leaders in the DER vendor industry. In between taking in sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and dining on some of the best cuisine Brooklyn and Chinatown have to offer, our guests and team spent two days sharing learnings and listening to insights gleaned from our DER deployments with over 45 utilities across the country. 

Utilities in the room discussed how they are rapidly growing the size and scope of DER deployments. Clients that were still in the early phases of DER management were learning from and bouncing ideas off of those that were further along. 

Our time at HubSummit has reaffirmed our belief that, over the coming years, the most successful utilities will be the ones that implement a customer-centric approach to managing DERs. We also noted a few trends that we thought were worth sharing. 

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DERs are breaking out of the DSM silo and into the control room 

With thousands of MWs under management, DER deployments have reached a scale where they are material to grid operators. Several utilities at the conference, including Arizona Public Service and National Grid, discussed how their grid operators are relying on DERs to meet mission-critical network objectives such as renewable smoothing, congestion management and power quality support. We’re seeing this trend in how utilities use our platform. Users of the Mercury DERMS have gone from calling point-in-time, system load triggered demand response events to using the platform to configure ongoing localized grid services like load shift, on-demand capacity and voltage support, all informed by ongoing situational awareness of grid conditions and DER flexibility. 

EV management is gaining momentum 

EVs were all the buzz over the course of HubSummit. EV programs are becoming a reality for all the reasons we expected, including utility decarbonization goals and escalating EV adoption rates. One of the interesting points we dove into was the inherent flexibility of charging behavior. Analyzing data from our integration with Chargepoint, our grid services team shared that while on a typical weekday, EVs are plugged in for over 10 hours on average, they are only charging for less than 2 hours - laying the foundation for the managed charging framework. We also announced three new utilities leveraging the Mercury DERMS platform to enable EV TOU rates and managed charging. 

BYO is expanding in scope and scale 

From our first BYO deployment with Austin Energy back in 2012, it's amazing to see the proliferation of the BYO model as the dominant deployment model for utility grid service programs. It’s clear that utility customers are willing to participate in great numbers, and that their DERs can provide real value to the grid. There was healthy competition in the room among utilities demonstrating the success of their programs - both in terms of number of enrollments and enrollment rates. When SoCalGas was recognized as the largest BYOT program in the US, with over 50,000 customers enrolled, applause was quickly interjected by claims that other utilities in the room are on track to beat that number next year! The sheer scale of BYOT programs today has allowed us to develop a repeatable playbook for providing a wide variety of grid services using customer-owned DERs. We’re now deploying that playbook with batteries, electric vehicles, and other DERs.  

The conference left us all optimistic and reaffirmed that the value of DERs to utilities continues to grow, and that the reality of a DER- and customer-centric grid is even closer than we thought.

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