Taking a Closer Look at SGIP’s Grid Management Work Group

This article was recently published in Metering & Smart Energy International.
Sharon Allan, President and CEO SGIP

 The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) launched its new utility-led work group earlier this year to explore the technologies, concepts, capabilities and architecture principles required to manage a more complex grid.

Citing a rise in the integration of distributed energy resources (DER) into the distribution grid, SGIP president and CEO Sharon Allan collaborated with SGIP member utilities on the formation of the grid management group.

“Energy regulation and advances in technology are rapidly  driving the integration of more distributed energy resources into the distribution grid and in order to effectively enable and utilize these resources and maintain grid reliability, we began collaborating on the changes needed for electric distribution system planning and operations,” says Allan.

“The output is to be able to create sourcing requirements that can be leveraged for the next procurement cycle.”

The working group holds monthly meetings and discusses a variety of topics, such as the impact of distributed energy resources on grid management or energy models. A recent meeting covered the topic of fault location, isolation and service restoration (FLISR). Allan notes that although each utility was putting FLISR into practice, the group first had to define FLSIR, as even within the utilities present there were varied definitions of FLSIR. The utilities worked toward an established definition of FLSIR and then proceeded to map out the impact of DER on fault location, isolation and service restoration.

“This is our general format, where typically we have two utilities who are deploying DER talking about how it affects the particular topic being discussed – FLISR, reliability and operations or protection and control for example. The group is able to openly share and ask questions, creating an environment conducive to learning.”

While these meetings are utility driven for now, discussion will open up to include national labs, research and consulting organizations – and eventually vendor companies. The aim is to help utilities refine their requirements for grid modernization and integration of distributed energy resources, in order that they can define a roadmap for sourcing and procurement.

Allan believes that by keeping the group exclusive to utilities for the time being, they are able to think outside the box and beyond what current systems can do, to develop a system that is suited first to the needs of the utility and its customers, and then to the vendor environment.

While the grid management group currently has 25-30 utility members, and the number of participating utilities continues to grow, outreach and connecting to the right people remains a challenge as there are over 3,000 utilities in the US.

However, feedback continues to be positive, Allan says. “The utilities that I come into contact with have indicated a need for a platform that brings operational and IT personnel together.

“There are a few different forms where you might have CIO round tables; and there are some where you might have an executive strategy table. But there isn’t really a good central platform for operational people to connect with their peers.”

The Grid Management Working Group meeting, held at SGIP’s 2016 Grid Modernization Summit in Washington, DC, continued the discussion, this time with participation from national labs. The November agenda included dialog around grid architecture, grid sensing and measurement, interoperability, microgrid control and testing, along with next steps for broadening the discussion.

Utilities interested in joining the Grid Management Working Group and SGIP can contact Sharon Allan directly at sallan@sgip.org.