New IREC guide to help states understand new IEEE standard for US DERs


The US Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has published a guide entitled “Making the Grid Smarter: State Primer on Adopting the New IEEE Standard 1547-2018 for Distributed Energy Resources.”

The resource is intended to help state regulators and other stakeholders in the country navigate the technical, operational and policy changes that will need to be addressed over the next five years.

The industry standard was updated last year to enable substantially higher implementation of distributed energy resources (DERs) on the grid.

Adopted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the “IEEE Standard 1547-2018 for Interconnection and Interoperability of Distributed Energy Resources with Associated Electric Power Systems Interface” presents a list of options that states will have to adopt and implement.

“The 2018 standard will help ensure new distributed energy resources meet the most updated performance standards, which will maintain or increase the stability, reliability and intelligence of the distribution grid over time, as more customers adopt transformative clean energy technologies,” said Brian Lydic, IREC’s chief regulatory engineer.

The updated IEEE Standard 1547-2018 supercedes the 2008 version and will help establish a national standard that will transform how DERs function as part of the distribution grid.

Making the Grid Smarter provides an overview and explanation of the major revisions in IEEE Standard 1547-2018 and the key issues for states to consider.

“More consumers and communities than ever recognise the environmental, economic, resiliency and public health benefits of clean energy technologies. Once widely utilised, the enhanced functionalities of Distributed Energy Resources set out by the new IEEE standard will likely enable higher penetration of DERs on the grid, while maintaining grid safety and reliability, and providing new grid and consumer benefits,” said IREC VP-regulatory Sara Baldwin.

State regulators will be responsible for formal adoption of the new standard, while utilities will need to integrate them into their operations. In addition, DER industry representatives, federal and state agencies, technology manufacturers, national laboratories and advocates will all have key roles in the adoption process.

“Compared to its 2003 predecessor, IEEE Standard 1547-2018 requires DERs to be capable of providing specific grid supportive functionalities relating to voltage, frequency, communications and controls,” said Lydic. “With a variety of options built into the standard, a full understanding of the implications of each element of the rollout will be critical, and it may be more challenging to apply uniformly, with differences potentially based on DER system size, technology or local grid conditions.”

Once broadly implemented, IEEE Standard 1547-2018 will enable DERs to automatically respond to certain grid conditions. The clear definition of DER settings in statewide interconnection rules will help increase efficiency, help ensure clear communication and generate new sources of cost savings.

The standard will also enable DER customers and utilities to optimise the grid whilst avoiding negative impacts:

  • More DERs will be capable of connecting to the grid with higher penetration scenarios, assuming their control functions are set to adequately accommodate grid conditions.
  • Customers installing DERs may see shifts in their generation output which may require the adoption of new consumer protection measures.
  • The connection process used for DERs to the grid will have to be updated to meet the new standard (and to reflect the vastly different conditions under which the grid is operating today, as compared with 2003).
  • Current state rules and utility interconnection procedures based on IEEE Standard 1547-2003 will need to be updated.

“With the IEEE Standard 1547-2018 published and a few remaining years before full rollout (2022), now is the time for states and regulators to begin to implement the updated standard,” says IREC president/CEO Larry Sherwood. “Even in states where DER penetration is low today, this will help ensure new DERs meet the most updated performance standards, while giving latitude to utilise the enhanced grid functionality as the volume of DERs increases on the grid.”

States or utilities will begin integrating the new standard into applicable interconnection rules and tariffs voluntarily or as directed by state statute.

“State implementation of IEEE Standard 1547-2018 will benefit from fair, balanced and transparent stakeholder processes to ensure that the perspectives of all impacted stakeholders, including consumers adopting DERs, are accounted for and reflected,” added Baldwin.