Nevada has had a tumultuous few years when it comes to energy policy. In 2016, there was a war over the state’s decision to take away solar net metering, which eventually led to a 2017 reinstatement. This year, there are dueling ballot initiatives to either deregulate the state’s retail energy sector or pledge utility NV Energy to a massive buildout of solar and energy storage projects.
Behind the scenes, Nevada lawmakers, regulators, utilities and environmental and consumer stakeholders have also been putting together a plan to integrate distributed energy resource (DERs) into the state’s grid planning and operations.
This week, amidst little fanfare, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission released its proposed decision on this Distribution Resources Plan (DRP) proceeding. In simple terms, it calls for NV Energy to delve into its medium- and low-voltage distribution grid, to discover the hosting capacity, grid needs, and potential DER impact and values of each circuit and feeder line across its 1.3 million-customer territory.
If approved, this DRP plan would put Nevada in a small club of states — California, New York and Hawaii — that are actively asking their investor-owned utilities to bring DERs into their grid plans on a number of levels. These efforts start with the basics — getting data on how much DER different circuits can support, and forecasting their longer-term impact on supply and demand — and extend to more advanced features, such as circuit-by-circuit hosting capacity maps that can tie into to DER interconnection processes, and distribution deferral opportunities for recruiting DERs as replacements for traditional grid upgrades.