• Distributed Energy Resources Management
  • Utility Technologies
  • Distribution Network Operators

The Right Time to Deploy a DERMS

Roberto Rodriguez Labastida
Dec 03, 2020

Guidehouse Insights

It is now common knowledge within distribution utilities that distributed energy resources (DER) growth entails grid integration challenges, such as managing capacity constraints and equipment overload, regulating reverse power flow, and mitigating voltage and frequency issues, among others. Yet these DER assets also have the potential to provide valuable services to retail electricity customers and distribution grids if they are integrated safely and reliably with state-of-the-art control and optimization technologies. Distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) solutions have emerged, enabling distribution utilities to integrate high levels of DER penetration and potentially enabling assets ranging from solar PV, energy storage, and EVs to increase grid reliability, flexibility, and hosting capacity.

Distribution network operators and vertically integrated utilities frequently ask when it is the right time to deploy a DERMS. In many cases, utilities do not have tools to actively manage their network such as an advanced distribution management system (ADMS). In others, utilities are looking to deploy demand response management tools (DRMS) and are comfortable with the level of control that a DRMS can bring into their system. Finally, a last group has not really seen many DER assets in their network and wonders why they should invest in a DERMS.

In most cases, there is no need to wait for a full ADMS deployment to install a DERMS or see high levels of DER before to plan for a DERMS. Rather than rushing to a solution once a problem occurs, utilities should modernize their grid infrastructure early without adding exponential risk to the project. This way, there is never a customer-visible problem or a crisis to manage, allowing for logical decision-making to prevail ahead of time.

The Time to Deploy a DERMS Is Now

Michael Goldman, director of energy efficiency, regulatory, planning, and evaluation for Eversource, describes the company’s view on DERMS deployment as “using an incremental and evolving approach.” Eversource is incorporating DERMSs within energy efficiency first to optimize its broad suite of behind-the-meter energy efficiency programs in parallel with its grid modernization initiatives. Goldman continues, “One doesn’t need to do full-scale SCADA integration with DERMSs to realize initial benefits such as those associated with system-level peak load reductions. The platform is already creating value for our customers. Over time, with integration into real-time system operations, DERMS technology will provide additional value to customers leveraging locational value. We can use DERMSs wherever we are in terms of our grid modernization journey. It’s not an all or nothing value proposition.”

The DERMS should also replace any functionality from any DRMS, with the advantage of being DER ready once more DER assets are deployed in a territory. So, the next time you ask yourself when the time for a DERMS deployment is, be sure that the answer is now. This question is one of six that our latest white paper, DERMS: Fact Versus Fiction: Debunking Six Myths About DER and DERMS, commissioned by Enbala, answers.