MISO states push for authority over DER in electricity markets at FERC meeting
FERC called the aggregated DER technical conference in February when it approved a separate order regarding how energy storage facilities.
That order allowed large-scale storage in each regional electricity market to provide multiple services, but regulators could not settle on similar rules for aggregations of DERs like rooftop solar and vehicle chargers, pushing them to call the conference.
During a morning session on Tuesday, Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur asked regional grid operators if FERC could take a similarly broad approach to aggregated DERs and approve rule that applies to all markets, or if there are technical differences between regions that necessitate separate approaches.
The main difference, representatives from the New York ISO and ISO-New England responded, lies in the capabilities of distribution utilities, regulated by the states rather than FERC.
While a few utilities in states like New York and California are developing the ability to control DERs on their grids, most are still relying on “crude” operating systems without those capabilities, Henry Yoshimura, head of ISO-NE demand strategy, told the conference.
Those concerns carried over into the afternoon session featuring state regulators. Ted Thomas, chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission and president of the Organization of MISO States, noted that integrating aggregated DERs will require new grid communication systems for utilities to both control the resources and communicate with their owners.
“Those systems don’t yet exist in the MISO footprint,” he said. “For both safety and curtailment, somebody has to have the authority when there is a system problem to turn things off. The systems to do that don’t yet exist.”
Because of that, Thomas cautioned that FERC should not mandate all distributed resources be allowed to participate in wholesale and retail power markets.
“Draw a line” between the markets, he urged regulators, and “let states decide” if they want dual participation.
Thomas’s opinion is likely to carry weight with regulators, as MISO has more state members than any other regional electricity market and most of its states are still responsible for resource adequacy. But state representatives from other markets said letting each one decide participation rules could stunt DER growth.
“The only way for this market to grow as I see it is to have the opportunity to mix and match,” said Andrew Place, vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission, which lies in the PJM market. “I think if you sell people as one or the other I think we’re fixing the system we had, we’re not looking to the future of what value this can bring to the grid.”