Connecticut hosts first ever grid modernisation planning session


Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority held it’s first-ever technical conference this week, where utility representatives and industry stakeholders explored evolving cost drivers, changing customer demands and new grid technologies. 

Jennifer Schilling, Eversource’s director of grid modernisation, said the growth of distributed energy resources creates new opportunities but also requires a new stance on strategic planning.

Schilling, added that her company breaks down its investments “into peak load, new customer growth, reliability and ageing infrastructure, and basic business, which includes capital repairs.

“Eversource Energy submitted comments before the conference commenced asking for “foundational investments in sensing and monitoring communications, analytics, automation and control solutions.

“The nature of the changes in demand and the forecasting will be important in terms of thinking about what do we need to do differently to be able to say, ‘OK, if I have these categories of investment, how are they likely to change in the future?’”

“We need to have technologies in place that understand how the system is operating in real time, with power coming from any direction on the system,” said Chuck Eves, director of engineering and strategic planning at Avangrid subsidiary United Illuminating (UIL).

Connecticut Green Bank Associate Director Anthony Clark commented on the industry’s lack of insight and need for data as a planning resource: “In much of the discussion here we’ve talked about the challenge of having solar PV or other resources where there isn’t sufficient data or resolution into the resource or ability to control it.

“The technologies themselves are becoming smarter, so we’re looking at deploying smart inverters that will actually sense grid conditions and respond to them.”

Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) Chair Katie Dykes raised the issue of cost effectiveness and sustainability saying, “The cost-effectiveness testing will help us learn a lot about — particularly from the utilities’ perspective — what the grid currently can do and where the limitations are.”

Utility stakeholders agreed on the importance of long-term sustainability of solutions, accounting for life cycle costs and long term plans.

PURA is seeking written follow-up comments on the technical conference by April 10 and will later this month issue a final notice of scope of procedure for its exploration into the issues of grid modernisation.