EPRI Receives Federal Funding for Distributed Generation Project

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff December 15, 2005

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Electric Power Research Institute has announced that a collaborative project it initiated has been selected to receive funding from the U.S. Dept. of Energy State Technologies Advancement Collaborative to foster distributed energy resources (DER) development and integration.

The two-year project will establish business models and regulatory approaches that reward electricity providers for:

  • Integrating distributed energy resources into their systems where there are demonstrable benefits by developing state or utility-specific business and regulatory strategies.

  • Demonstrating the most promising approaches through actual pilot projects in Massachusetts and California.

  • Conducting outreach in public and industry forums.

EPRI united key stakeholders to create a consortium including the California Energy Commission, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Southern California Edison, National Grid, San Diego Gas & Electric Co., Pacific Gas & Electric, Tennessee Valley Authority RealEnergy, Solar Turbines, EnerNOC, Northern Power Systems, and UTC Power.

“The exciting part about this project is bringing diverse stakeholders together,” says Ellen Petrill, EPRI’s director of public/private partnership. “With great minds and varying perspectives working toward common goals, we can create the path forward to the future where innovative technologies keep breaking new ground.”

The Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources will lead the project. The stakeholders will fund the majority of the project; the STAC contribution is approximately $350,000.

“We are pleased to assist EPRI in securing additional funding for this significant and valuable project,” said Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources Commissioner David O’Connor. “This project is important in providing a policy framework for integrating DER into our electric delivery systems to determine when it is most valuable to all stakeholders.”

Distributed energy resources are small-scale power generation technologies—typically in the 3 kW to 10,000 kW range—located on-site, or at least close to where electricity is used to provide an alternative to or an enhancement of the traditional electric power system.

“We see distributed energy resources as important to the future electricity system,” says Hank Courtright, vice president of EPRI’s generation sector. “Stakeholders from industry and the public sector need to work together to create ways to enable DER to fit utility businesses so society can benefit.”

The project is estimated to begin as early as January. The funding is part of an overall $11.5 million approved by the State Technologies Advancement Collaborative, a five-year pilot program funded by the U.S. DOE. Organizations from 23 states are participants in the 11 awarded proposals.