Snohomish County PUD’s Distributed Energy Resource (DER) team was recently named the recipient of Grid Forward’s 2021 Grid Innovator Award for its work in helping accelerate grid innovation at the utility.
“I am so proud of our Distributed Energy Resource (DER) team and the work they have done to transition the PUD into a utility of the future,” said John Haarlow, PUD CEO/General Manager. “This cross-functional team has developed creative solutions that allow the PUD to deliver a clean energy future with more customer choices, while maintaining reliable and cost-effective service to our customers.”
The DER team has been an integral part in the PUD’s 10-year vision of becoming the “utility of the future.” Over the past two years, the team has implemented innovative planning processes and developed new tools to integrate DERs to the grid. It also launched multiple rate design pilots for residential and commercial customers ahead of its Connect Up program.
The DER team is made up of employees from an array of PUD departments, including Customer Energy Services, Transmission and Distribution Engineering, Power Supply, Rates, and Corporate Communications.
“The benefit of having a strong cross-functional team is that the DER plan addresses net impacts across power generation and acquisition decisions, capital and operational grid management, rate structures, customer service and conservation acquisition,” said Jason Zyskowski, PUD AGM of Generation, Power, Rates and Transmission Management. “It has broken down traditional silos at the PUD and helped develop optimal DER solutions.”
The team developed a process to evaluate non-wires solutions as an alternative to typical transmission and distribution projects such as substation upgrades, construction of new facilities and reconductoring distribution circuits. It also developed a heat map of its service area indicating overloaded circuits so engineers know where to deploy DERs, including energy-efficiency and demand-response solutions as alternatives to costly capital investments.
Additionally, the team launched SnoPUD’s FlexEnergy, a residential pilot that deploys new rate designs and demand-response programs, and a time-of-day pilot for businesses. The pilots will help the PUD learn more about customer usage flexibility and technology adoption as it prepares to launch advanced metering infrastructure through its Connect Up program.
Josh Keeling, Director of Distributed Energy Resources at Cadeo Group, an energy-focused research firm, presented the award to the PUD at the recent Grid Forward annual member meeting.
“SnoPUD has quietly built up a portfolio of innovative work to the benefit of their customers, including non-wires solutions, dynamic rates and virtual power plants,” Keeling said. “In some ways, the work they’ve done integrating different parts of the organization is more impressive than the technical work they’re doing. Creating cross-functional buy-in at a utility is no small task.”