Distributed Utility Valuation/ Validation
Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Date: 1/1/95    Record No.: 10089
Contact: Lynn Coles, 303-275-4699; Jeff Williams, 303-275-3393

Distributed Utility Valuation/ Validation
NREL is interested in DU because of its potentially significant role in the market for renewable energy technology, particularly in the context of industry restructuring (where it is unclear how externality costs and benefits will be dealt with). Only a select handful of utilities appear to be actively pursuing these ideas, with another one or two dozen that maintain an interest and attend workshops. NREL has a DU advisory board with representation from 15 utilities.

The DUV effort has until now been a loose collaboration between NREL, EPRI, PNL and PG&E, with each one sharing and coordinating its own work with the others. A number of reports have been issued, notably a "monograph" published in July 1993, and the proceedings of two workshops. A project summary report is expected in March.

EPRI is working on developing an algorithm for valuing uncertainty. Otherwise, the only development along this line is the PG&E "Delta" study. In the work to date, most of the benefits of DU usually come in the form of distribution system deferrals. (In early December, EPRI decided to withdraw from the collaboration, and to hold its results for members only.)

Besides valuation methodology, other key missions include characterization of institutional and stakeholder issues, and of the technical cost and performance. In the near future NREL will release a report on the Cost, Performance and Siting of DU Technology.

NREL wants to see a national program, coordinating a broader base of R&D, and with emphasis on Validation, rather than Valuation (so the name DUV won't change). Two new projects may be of interest:

1. Institutional Issues: A new two-phase program is now in the planning stage. Phase one will be a collaboration between NREL and 10-12 utilities to investigate the institutional (i.e., regulatory) issues. Funding would be 1/2 from NREL and the other half from the utilities (about $10K each). NREL is in the process of contracting with John Nimmons & Associates (206-754-2564) for the first parts of phase 1, and the plan is to have each utility contract individually with them for the rest.

In Phase 2, contractors would work with individual utilities, so that competitive aspects can be handled separately from the (phase 1) aspects that can and should be in a more public forum. The feeling is that this cannot be an EPRI undertaking because of the regulatory aspects.

A draft statement of work and other information is available from Lynn Coles.

2. Distributed Utility Integration Test (DUIT, or "do it"): In very preliminary stage of discussion, the idea here is to put technologies in the field and demonstrate operation and control in an actual DU setting. It's expected that various commercialization/demo programs for the individual technologies will provide good partnering opportunities. A brief description of what NREL has in mind is available from Lynn Coles. (DU, Distributed Utility)

Topics: DU