A main theme at the NRECA TechAdvantage Conference in New Orleans, LA this week is preparing electric cooperatives (co-ops) for the smart grid, which included focus on integrating utility solar energy, developing cybersecurity and preparing for changing standards.
Co-ops Pursuit of Utility Scale Solar PV
NRECA is promoting and streamlining the transition to implementation of Solar PV projects through their Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration (SUNDA). This program, in collaboration with DOE, is implementing a 23-MW solar installation research project, focused on identifying and addressing barriers to utility scale solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment at co-ops. They have recently published a Cooperative Utility PV Field Manual that includes guidelines on all aspects of solar projects and provides reference designs.
Smart Grid = Smart New Standards
The topic of changing standards was visible at the TechAdvantage Conference, notably the changing interconnection standards and NERC reliability standards. Robert Harris, Principal Engineer of Transmission & Distribution at NRECA, emphasized the importance of upcoming changes in the interconnection standard (IEEE 1547 -2003) for electric co-ops. He was encouraging co-ops to participate in the standards development process.
ComRent’s Mark Siira, also Vice-Chair of the IEEE 1547 Revision working group, suggests that co-ops actively participate in developing this important standard. Most of the old rules and test methods related to interconnection will change with the goal of setting a minimum technical requirement at the distribution level. For all those commissioning utility projects, this means that the traditional field commissioning practices will change as well. Take a moment to read Mark Siira’s white paper on the new standards for our smart grid.
Impact of New Smart Grid Standards
- They will establish a new technical standard
- Are technology neutral
- Will include interoperability, the enabler of the smart grid
- Will be referenced by a single document of mandatory requirements
- Will be applicable for most installations
- At the end of the day the new standards will be defined by a repeatable process, which saves money, time and manpower.
If you’d like to get ahead of the game and prepare your project for the new commissioning steps, contact us today.