Coley Girouard and Ryan Katofsky, Advanced Energy Perspectives
This is the seventh in an occasional series from AEE, originally published in Utility Dive, that addresses how the power sector can successfully transition to a 21st Century Electricity System.
U.S. utilities invest over $20 billion per year replacing and modernizing their electricity distribution infrastructure. As the electricity system continues to evolve, making sure that this money continues to be invested wisely, especially at a time of growing deployment of distributed energy resources (DER), is prompting changes to how utilities conduct distribution system planning.
The distribution grid is the backbone of a reliable electric system used to deliver electricity from the transmission system to individual consumers. Modern planning processes are critical for providing essential electric service.
The distribution grid also enables interconnected DERs to export electricity and provide grid services, provides electric service when distributed generation (DG) systems are not generating, and provides critical grid stability — maintaining voltage and frequency. Enhancements to the distribution system, particularly the deployment of digital technologies, are providing grid operators with more visibility into, and control of, the system.