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DOE Grid Modernization Regional Workshops

The importance of our nation's electric system cannot be overstated. It underpins our economic prosperity, national security and our overall quality of life. However, as our country moves toward a more digital economy and we witness a convergence of information technology with communications, electricity, transportation and other sectors, the demands being placed on our grid infrastructure are changing dramatically.

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Grid Modernization Initiative, the Department convened industry stakeholders across the U.S. in a series of regional workshops. These workshops solicited feedback on the Department's grid related research and demonstration strategy, and provided opportunities for stakeholders to inform the Department on the technical challenges and emerging policy issues confronting their region and the nation as a whole. To incorporate both of these goals, the workshops included two tracks:

Track 1 focused of the Department's Grid Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP) that identifies key challenges and specifies research and demonstration priorities for achieving a modernized grid. The research plan was developed based on input from the Quadrennial Energy Review and Quadrennial Technology Review as well as the private sector, including the industry-led Future of the Grid Initiative; however, the stakeholder input received at the regional workshops will be used to refine the Department's research portfolio to ensure that it aligns with regional needs.

Summary materials and the workshop presentations for the six technology areas discussed in this track include:
Devices & Integrated Systems:    Section Overview    -    Presentation
Sensing & Measurement:    Section Overview    -    Presentation
Security & Resilience:    Section Overview    -    Presentation
System Operations & Control:    Section Overview    -    Presentation
Design & Planning Tools:    Section Overview    -    Presentation
Institutional Support:    Section Overview    -    Presentation

Track 2 explored the technology implications and challenges associated with emerging policies related to grid modernization efforts. These multi-stakeholder discussions and the insights stakeholders provided will help inform efforts to assist state and local decision makers as they consider future grid investments and develop their own roadmaps for grid modernization. Stakeholder participation will also help us to better understand the technology developments needed to address future policy changes.

Workshops Summary

The workshops took place from March through June 2016 in these regions:

 
Central:  Austin, TX - March 2-3, 2016     (Workshop Agenda)

 
Northeast:  Boston, MA – April 13-14 2016     (Workshop Agenda)

 
Northwest:  Seattle, WA – April 26-27 2016     (Workshop Agenda)

 
Midwest:  Minneapolis, MN – May 9-10, 2016     (Workshop Agenda)

 
Southeast:  Atlanta, GA – May 17-18 2016     (Workshop Agenda)

 
Southwest:  San Francisco, CA – June 7-8, 2016     (Workshop Agenda)

 

A total of 470 people registered for the workshops representing a cross section of industry stakeholders:

Common Themes

While there were specific characteristics and challenges identified in each of the regions, there were a number of common themes that emerged:

  • Pathway for Transition and Commercialization

    Understanding the transition pathways from legacy systems to a modernized infrastructure includes information on technology sequencing and prioritization. Standards are needed to increase the pace of technology adoption and to ensure flexibility and improve interoperability.

  • Education and Tools to Support Regulatory, Policy, and Investment Decisions

    The rapid pace of technology innovation and change is challenging to everyone. Scenario analyses, case studies, and easy-to-use tools are needed to help decision makers understand the impacts and trade-offs of policy and technology solutions including a comparison to low-technology options and investment risk analyses.

  • Proper Valuation of Resources

    Understanding the real value of various resource options, especially distributed energy resources (DER), how they impact system performance, and how the value of those resources may change depending on location is critical for system planning and operations. Further, the industry would benefit from the development and adoption of a standard valuation methodology.

  • System Interdependencies

    Infrastructure systems are increasingly converging and impacting one another where they were traditionally viewed as independent. The interdependencies of natural gas and electricity are of primary importance , but water and transportation systems are becoming increasingly interconnected and dependent on electricity. In addition, the traditional division between transmission and distribution control systems is being challenged as the full value of DER is harnessed.

  • Collaboration and Information Sharing

    There is an ongoing need for collaboration, information, and best practices sharing between states, agencies, utilities and even other sectors. Across the country, there was support for DOE to continue convening and engaging stakeholders in discussions around regional and national issues and to share information, data, and lessons learned.

  • Customer Education and Engagement

    Customers are a major driver of change in the electric power industry, but often they do not understand or appreciate the various aspects of electricity delivery and the investments that may be needed. In addition, more research is needed to understand how consumers make choices to better predict participation rates in programs and technology.

  • Workforce Development

    New skills both in the office and in the field are required to manage and operate a modern grid. Hands-on training for grid operators and training materials on operating the grid safely in the presence of high penetrations of DER is especially important. A renewed focus on developing student interest in the industry is needed to fill the workforce pipeline with skilled workers.

 

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