10 Things you need to know about the utility-distributed energy market

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A new report tracking utility adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs) in North America has been released.

The report is a compilation of the findings of a study conducted by West Monroe.

The study reveals that:

  1. Utilities are taking actions necessary to accommodate increasing penetrations of DERs on the grid
  2. However, the actions are not at the rate required to keep ahead of customers’ demand and regulators’ expectations
  3. State policies, financial incentives and customer demand driving the influx of DERs including smart thermostats, EVs and energy storage
  4. 92% of US utilities have integrated grid systems with DERs
  5. 40% of utilities see DERs as an opportunity
  6. 80% of consumers have reported utility ignorance on expanding customer DERs
  7. 15% of consumers use renewables to power their homes, with 60% relying on solar
  8. 66% of utilities said third parties (other than customers) were adding DERs, and nearly 30% of utilities said aggregated communities are adding DERs to their system today
  9. 40% of regulators are now looking at a performance-based rate making
  10. More than 90% of utilities say DERs are having some impact on their operations or revenue, yet nearly 60% have no specific management services available for DERs.

Paul DeCotis, senior director in West Monroe’s Energy & Utilities practice, said: “The survey results suggest that no matter what DER penetration is today, the next few years will be extremely important. The fact that more utilities are making foundational investments to gain better visibility and insight into their impact on grid operations is encouraging. The ability to generate new sources of revenue from business and data analytics is also very promising.”

The study was conducted with responses from more than 1,700 utility customers, 140 utility executives and managers, and more than two dozen regulators in major markets across North America.

A full copy of the report “Planning for a Distributed Energy Future,” is available here.

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.