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by Jeff St. John
December 05, 2019

Early last month, Xcel submitted a set of plans to regulators highlighting its unique Midwestern imperatives. The filing includes a 10-year guide for merging customer-owned and -operated distributed energy resources into its distribution grid investments and operations.

The filing asks the PUC for permission to charge customers for hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in smart meters, communications networks, self-healing circuits and other technologies over the next few years.

This focus on grid investments makes sense for a utility that hasn’t yet deployed smart meters, advanced grid management software or other important tools for connecting, monitoring or managing DERs at scale. It also matches Minnesota’s relatively slow pace of DER adoption.

Compared to other utilities in other states pushing for DER-grid integration, “we are not currently undergoing sizable additions of DER[s] on our system,” Xcel writes.

That means that, rather than playing catch-up to disruptions from DERs, as is happening in states such as Hawaii and California, Xcel can "take a measured approach and pace to [planning] that allows the requirements to be implemented in a cost-effective, systematic manner.”