GI Energy (GIE) recently exhibited at the 2019 DistribuTECH conference in New Orleans, LA. This conference brought together ~13,000 energy professionals from utilities across the country, as well as developers and manufacturers from across the globe.
This was a utility focused conference, and important themes were represented throughout the conference, but at the core were goals for 2025 and 2050. These goals heavily focused on renewable energy penetration and energy storage, while highlighting the need for reliability, resiliency, security and the power of analytics to drive decisions on a daily to a yearly basis.
GIE kicked off by attending the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) working group, learning more about the long list of risks that comes with such goals. This discussion was focused specifically on integrating distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) within utilities. Two utilities that were represented on this panel were Southern California Edison (SCE) and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) who spoke about their approach of starting off small and working towards larger, more impactful projects while keeping their goals to increase reliability in mind.
The audience then turned to small working groups to dive into the risks associated with DERMS that utilities and energy professionals were facing. These included cyber security, customer integration, data quality, integration costs, change management and even selecting the wrong vender. These are all areas in which GIE has been working with utilities throughout the country to overcome with our unique energy solution offerings. Overall, SEPA successfully brought together utilities, developers and manufactures to discuss the barriers to DERMS adoption, and brainstorm solutions to challenges within grid modernization.
Electric vehicles and utility scale battery storage were hotly debated. Many felt the changing of the tides with Shell’s recent acquisition of Greenlots, a leader in electric vehicle charging solutions and software. Utilities are preparing for an increase in supply around these demanding charging stations. Some through the ramping up of storage, while others by incentivizing low-demand charging times: MP2 Energy is offering free overnight charging to their customers in Texas.
It is apparent that utilities are becoming keener on the idea of utility scale storage. Many are working on demonstration projects, similar to GI Energy’s Con Edison project, hoping to scale them up in order to meet state storage goals. This technology is also being paired with solar in some instances: Austin Energy is currently working on a project to pair two batteries with community solar in conjunction with the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative program, to work towards goals of 10 MW of battery storage by 2025.
DistribuTECH was filled with more than just the allure of Bourbon street, alligator po-boys and flashy exhibitor booths. What really shined were the innovative conversations, thoughts on how utilities are becoming more customer focused and the discussion on creative energy applications for a successful future.