Co-ops develop smart grid and renewable energy evaluation tool

IMG_3516Electric cooperatives and other ­utilities will soon have a customizable set of tools that will help decision-makers determine the potential value of adding smart grid components and renewable energy to their distribution feeders.

The Cooperative Research Network’s (CRN) Open Modeling Framework will enable electric co-op and other utility planners to make projections about the impact of solar panels and other emerging tech­nologies on their distribution systems.

“We’ve developed an online platform that will house many ­engineering and economic models,” said Robbin Christianson, Director of Program Operations for NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network.

“We can develop load models at a tremendous level of detail,” said Craig Miller, a CRN Technical Liaison and a consultant to NRECA on smart grid technology. “We’re talking about the capability of looking at loads down to the level of an individual light bulb in a house.”

Residential developers, ­working with a co-op or other utility on subdivisions featuring renewable energy resources, could use the data to determine whether a community solar installation might be more efficient than rooftop panels.

The Open Modeling Framework has been developed through CRN’s smart grid demonstration project, supported by NRECA, 23 electric co-ops ­including several Illinois electric co-ops and the Department of Energy.

Source: Electric Co-op Today, Derrill Holly