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Winter Is Over: NYISO Releases Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap on Groundhog Day

Brett Feldman — February 9, 2017

The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) unveiled its much-anticipated Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Roadmap on Groundhog Day, meaning that winter is almost over for DER in the wholesale energy market. I attended the first meeting in this process last September, and NYISO has done a good job of having an open, transparent stakeholder process throughout and leading up to the final roadmap release.

NYISO has had demand response (DR) programs for over 10 years, but it may not be appropriate to simply use those same market rules for other types of DER. Energy storage, solar, and other types of distributed generation have different attributes than either DR or centralized, large-scale generation, so a new category of rules is required.

Electrical Grids of Today and Tomorrow

(Source: New York Independent System Operator)

One of the more intriguing proposals in the document pertains to capacity market participation for DER. NYISO says that it recognizes that not all DER will be able to deliver capacity in all 24 hours of a day (as a generator would be) in order to earn full capacity payments. It proposes a three-tiered service structure: full 24-hour service, on-peak service covering early morning through late evening, and daytime peak service for daily peak hours. While this proposal appears amenable for DER, the big question is how compensation will be prorated. Should it simply be done based on the number of hours available? Do peak hours have greater value than off-peak hours? That’s where the real value of the proposal will be determined.

One of NYISO’s primary reasons for this undertaking is to coordinate with retail energy markets, specifically aligning with the New York Public Service Commission’s (NYPSC) Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding. However, this strategy may be altered by another big news story from the last couple of weeks, that the NYPSC Chair and guiding force of REV Audrey Zibelman is leaving in March to take over as head of the Australian Energy Market Operator. That transition somewhat clouds the future of REV (at least in terms of the timeline for change, if not the content).

Hope for Standardized Rules?

Other Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) such as PJM and the California ISO have also undertaken DER processes and developed new market rules for these resources. Some of the biggest areas of contention have involved issues like aggregation, metering, interconnection, and performance measurement. I don’t expect any kind of national standards to result as each RTO’s markets and resource bases are unique; however, some level of commonality would help lower costs and barriers for vendors trying to develop projects in different regions.

The NYISO’s roadmap lays out a 2-4 year timetable for getting from concept to implementation for various aspects of the market changes. While not a quick, overnight snap-of-the fingers process, for the energy world it is an ambitious plan.

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