Making room on the local grid for small-scale PV.
Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
Peak load: shifting it, shaving it, measuring and planning for it. That’s what the power industry has been all about for well-nigh forever.
But now comes a new metric: “minimum load.”
Welcome to the world of distributed generation (DG), where, in order to install small-scale, photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity on rooftops, in parking lots, and atop utility poles, developers must take care that PV energy production—along with output from other DG sources—never exceeds local customer load. Otherwise, utilities would face the risk of “islanding” or reverse flows on small, local distribution circuits or line segments. Simply put, the low-voltage distribution network was designed strictly for one-way energy flow—from substation to the customer premise. It lacks the flexibility inherent in higher-voltage transmission lines.