Figure 1:  The EnergyIoT Common Reference Model

California has it right!  In 2019, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) created the “Rule 21” mandate for integrating behind the meter Distributed Energy Resources (DER).  This was primarily directed at rooftop solar that is being installed at record pace and is now a lawful requirement for all new construction.  The ruling requires that all inverters connected to the grid must comply with IEEE 1547 interconnect requirements and one of three communications protocols:

  • IEEE 2030.5
  • SunSpec Modbus
  • DNP3

Why?  Plain and simple it is for one thing:  INTEROPERABILITY!  The CPUC created these requirements because:

  1. The state of California is committed to decarbonization and recognizes that a large number of new stakeholders, IoT assets, and intermittent generation and unanticipated loads will be key problems to tackle in order to be successful.
  2. DERs must increase resilience while maintaining current safety and reliability requirements
  3. Non utility owned DERs will need to support utilities and grid stability by providing grid services individually or through aggregation.
  4. New stakeholders are welcome and will be allowed to participate in utility grid services through customer programs and could also potentially participate in wholesale and local markets.
  5. Costs for integrating DERs into utility operations and markets must be simplified and relatively inexpensive to implement.

The CPUC recognized that having a small set of communications protocols and information models would help them achieve their aspiration of an interoperable grid that supports democratic participation and a decarbonized electricity ecosystem.

Why IEEE 2030.5?

2030.5 was previously named the Smart Energy Profile (SEP) and was developed by the Zigbee Alliance as a metering communication solution primarily to coordinate with behind the meter building energy devices.  It was adopted and ratified by IEEE and is now on Version 2.  But, the standard has been around since 2009 and has evolved to a very rich standard and a growing ecosystem supporting testing and certification for interoperability and security compliance.  It is one of the few true “energy IoT” standards developed for modern grid communications, distributed intelligence, and interoperability.  OpenFMB™ is another IoT standard that also has incredible implications to support a nimble and neural grid as it matures.

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NEWS FLASH!  Today’s grid was not designed for today’s electrified, intermittent generation, green ecosystem – and meeting tomorrow’s electricity needs will be even more challenging!  Ok, so maybe that isn’t a surprise to anyone anywhere.  As the world becomes more and more dependent on reliable, inexpensive, resilient electric power, our electric power grid and those who operate it have become central to meeting national and global economic and societal needs.  Business and societal expectations for the grid are that it operates at near perfection.  Power outages and higher electricity costs make national news whenever they occur with finger-pointing, anger, and indignation directed towards the grid and market operators, some of it rightly so.

If you stand back and think about the way that we plan for grid upgrades, it becomes very clear why DSO and TSOs are struggling to meet rapidly growing customer expectations and electricity demand needs.  Our industry plans for PEAK LOAD needs that occur only a few times a year.  So, we overbuild the infrastructure for most times of the year.  That’s not necessarily a horrible idea and it has worked reasonably well in the past, but as we look forward to high penetration electric vehicles and lower reliance on fossil fuels for EVERYTHING, the amount of planned electricity capacity to meet peak load needs of the near future are mind-boggling AND EXPENSIVE!

So, just think about what’s coming next with a huge wave of completely unfamiliar and untested electricity customers – electric vehicles.

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Figure 1:  ISO Territories and Power Outages February 2021 (source: FERC and PowerOutage.US)

Black swan weather week disrupts power delivery across the US

In February 2021, 150M people were under winter advisories as ‘unprecedented’ snow and ice storms involving 25 states across the middle of the country. Seventeen states were affected by widespread rolling power outages, including Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia.  These outages affected the areas that participated in the ERCOT, SPP, MISO, PJM, NYISO, and NE-ISO service territories.

Throughout this black swan weather event, ERCOT instituted rolling blackouts across the Texas territory, affecting millions of Texas customers in order to prevent more extensive and damaging outages.  In a recent ERCOT press release, “The ability to restore more power is contingent on more generation coming back online,” said ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin. Since the winter storm began on Monday (February 15, 2021), approximately 185 generating units (out of ~610 or 30% of all bulk generating capacity) have tripped offline for one reason or another. Some factors include frozen wind turbines, limited gas supplies, low gas pressure and frozen instrumentation.

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