• Integrating Customer-Owned Generation

  • Customer Owned Generation Integration

    PHI supports federal and state regulatory policies that allow timely, efficient and cost-effective integration of renewable generation.

    The number of our business and residential customers who produce their own energy through generators, solar panels, wind or other sources has risen steadily. As of the end of 2013, we had approved net connections for nearly 10,000 customer-owned renewable energy systems.

    Renewable energy generators present a variety of challenges to system reliability. One challenge is that the electric system was originally designed to deliver power in just one direction. With the advent of home generation, power flows in both directions, depending on whether the customer's home generator is exporting excess electricity back into the utility grid or the utility is delivering electricity to the customer. Additionally, the flow of power can change direction at certain times of the day.

    Our system is robust and capable of integrating renewable resources in most of our service area. We are continuously enhancing our resources to facilitate these interconnections and are investing in tools or studies of advanced technologies toward integrating these alternative energy sources seamlessly into the electric grid.

    To facilitate the interconnection process, we make it a priority to partner with developers, state governments and PJM (our independent system operator). We also have assigned personnel to better serve our renewable energy customers. Our Green Power Connection team works with customers, their contractors, and PHI colleagues to more efficiently handle the growing volume of requests from across our service territory wanting to connect new systems.

    We also have teams assigned to

    • Make sure equipment is certified to operate safely and that the installation will not compromise the protections in place on power lines or at substations.
    • Review applications to ensure there will be no adverse operating impact on utility equipment or power quality that could affect other customers.
    • Check to ensure the transformer and other distribution equipment at the customer site are the correct size and type.

    In addition, we have been working on an online application system with enhanced internal automation to route applications through the approval process, initiate meter change-out and give customers approval. This should allow generating systems to be connected to the grid more seamlessly. The online application system will be operational sometime in 2014.

    We are involved in a variety of other activities and investments to safely connect these systems to the grid that include:

    • A Department of Energy grant for about $1 million to investigate advanced methods of voltage regulation to better accommodate increasing penetrations of Distributed Energy Resources. This will take place over the next two years.
    • Co-leading research on the design of an advanced inverter–the Department of Energy Sunshot−that will make it possible to measure and monitor output from alternative energy sources, so excess power does not load back onto the grid.
    • Installing systems to collect data samples every second in order to analyze the effect of large solar energy systems on the grid.
    • Working with manufacturers to improve grid stability by providing input on new features, setting up test sites and implementing advanced features that will reduce high voltage and voltage fluctuations.
    • Developing papers and presentations for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and for many conferences and government agencies, so all stakeholders have a better understanding of the characteristics and grid impact of solar energy.
    • Working with the IEEE Standards Association to develop new standards to accommodate the increasing amount of renewable energy; primarily, the Series of Interconnection Standards, IEEE1547.
    • Developing new techniques to properly forecast load as more renewable resources continue to come online.

    We will continue to monitor industry progress in creating renewable integration tools and will implement appropriate measures to maintain and improve the reliability and efficiency of renewable interconnections. As the supply of renewable energy increases, our utilities will continue to enhance their infrastructure to support these changes to their distribution systems.