New tools give utilities insight into grid capacity to host more solar, storage
a new paper, Key Hosting Capacity Analysis Decisions, published today by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), shares important lessons about a new network mapping tool that can help utilities and states better integrate clean energy technologies into the power grid.
The paper focuses on hosting capacity analysis (HCA), an advanced network transparency tool that first emerged around 2015. An HCA provides an assessment of the power grid’s ability to host additional distributed energy resources (DERs), such as solar and energy storage — in specific locations, without the need for expensive upgrades or lengthy interconnection studies. HCAs are rapidly growing in popularity with multiple states now needing or actively investigating their development to inform the integration of more DERs into the network. Last week, regulators in Colorado passed new rules requiring HCAs, and regulators in California issued an order to improve the use of the HCA for transportation electrification.
The document is designed to help readers understand the variety of issues and decisions to consider as a public HCA has been developed to ensure it is useful in supporting DER integration. IREC has been actively involved in regulatory proceedings and research projects related to HCA development across the country, including in California, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, Nevada and Minnesota. These experiences have provided a number of lessons about the factors needed to arrive at a useful analysis. The development of the paper was supported by a grant from the Barr Foundation.
“IREC’s extensive work on HCAs to date, as well as discussions with utility regulators and other clean energy stakeholders, made it clear that a guide to key decisions would benefit other states considering the adoption of this valuable resource” , said IREC regulatory VP Radina Valova. “IREC has translated his experience into important lessons learned about producing a useful HCA that achieves its ultimate goal: enabling more DERs on the network.”
There are multiple ways to develop an HCA, and decisions made during the development process can significantly affect the quality and ability of the HCA to perform its intended function. Some early decisions can be difficult, expensive or time consuming to change afterwards, while others can be built on and evolve with the analysis over time. Key decisions for hosting capacity analysis provide a foundation for regulators to make informed choices about these issues to ensure that the HCA is useful to support the deployment of DERs, including both generation (e.g., solar and storage). as a load (e.g. transport and electrification of buildings) ).
News release from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)