Distributed energy resources

frequently asked questions

  • Customer and owner community interest in DERs. The owner communities and their customers have expressed growing interest in DERs like distributed solar, distributed storage, demand response, electric vehicles and others.
  • Desire to integrate and manage DERs from multiple utility perspectives. Increased adoption of DER technologies will lead to changes in how the electric system is planned and operated. It may also lead to changes in utility business models and customer programs. Some functions of utility system planning, operations, business models and customer programs are managed by Platte River and others are managed by the owner communities. It will be important to bring these functions into alignment to facilitate increased use of DERs.
  • Platte River’s Resource Diversification Policy. This policy indicates that Platte River will proactively work toward the goal of reaching a 100% non-carbon resource mix by 2030, while maintaining Platte River’s three pillars of providing reliable, environmentally responsible and financially sustainable electricity and services. Achievement of this goal is predicated upon advancements in DER technologies and Platte River’s ability to realize the system benefits of these advancements.

Platte River and its owner communities formed the DER strategic planning committee composed of one to two members from Platte River and each owner community. Additional utility staff will be involved as needed. Members of the public will be consulted throughout the yearlong process.

The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is a membership-based non-profit organization that focuses on grid modernization and decarbonization of the electric system. Members include more than 700 utilities that provide over 70% of the electricity sold in U.S., competitive solution providers as well as governmental organizations focused on energy issues. SEPA’s services include research, education and advisory services and facilitation of industry working groups that focus on DER topics. We have hired SEPA to guide and facilitate strategy development, public stakeholder sessions and to provide research and knowledge of DER integration.

The DER strategy will contain the following elements:

  • A vision for coordinated evaluation, planning, operations, business models and customer programs for integrating DERs
  • A framework for evaluating different approaches to DERs that balances the collective costs and benefits for Platte River, its owner communities and their customers
  • Specific goals for the successful integration of DERs and methods for measuring progress
  • A range of possible program approaches to integrate DERs

Currently, the regional electric system consists of:

  • Generation and transmission systems that are largely owned and operated by Platte River
  • Distribution systems that are owned and operated by the owner communities
  • Homes and businesses within Platte River’s owner communities that contain electricity-consuming, and sometimes electricity-producing/storing equipment

DER technology will provide homes and businesses with greater control over how and when they choose to use, produce and even store energy. Integration means that we will coordinate the planning and operation of generation, transmission and distribution systems, along with DERs, so that all work together to provide a reliable, financially sustainable and environmentally responsible electric system.

Of course. Your participation can influence northern Colorado’s energy future. Platte River, its board of directors and owner communities value your input concerning the way in which we build DERs into a modern, flexible energy grid. Participation from you and your neighbors, local businesses and community leaders will help drive a successful DER strategy.

We encourage you to take part in Platte River’s DER strategic planning process by:

The scope of this strategic planning initiative does not include selection of specific DER technologies or programs. The committee is developing a strategic plan that can guide Platte River and its owner communities as DER technologies and programs are evaluated, selected and developed in the future. The strategy is intended to be broad and flexible to address all types of DERs.

While the selection and development of specific DER technologies and programs are not part of the DER strategic planning initiative, the development of a DER evaluation framework is part of the initiative.

The DER evaluation framework is intended to support Platte River’s and its owner communities’ ability to evaluate how different DER approaches support our shared and individual goals using a consistent evaluation method. The evaluation framework will support economic evaluation of DER approaches, including quantifiable costs and benefits, from the perspective of Platte River, its owner communities and their customers. The framework is also expected to include a qualitative screening that will address values that are harder to quantify.

Platte River and its owner communities intend to facilitate deployment of DERs across all customer groups in a way that provides benefits to all customers, as well as the electrical system, and to do so in a manner that is financially sustainable. To achieve this, we must accurately assess the costs and benefits of DERs using the DER evaluation framework and use the results of the assessment to guide our deployment approaches. Customers interested in deploying their own DERs may wish to conduct a similar analysis from their own perspective.

DER technology requires collection, storage and analysis of data to support increased automation and provision of services.

Customer data security and privacy is an essential part of any DER program that Platte River and its owner communities consider. As providers of electricity and related services, Platte River and its owner communities have been entrusted with the privacy and security of customer data for decades and this is a responsibility that is taken seriously. We will continue to seek and be guided by industry best practices for data collection, storage and protection.

Platte River recently completed its 2020 integrated resource plan (IRP). The 2020 IRP forecasts changes in electric load and adoption of DERs and describes plans for changes to Platte River’s resource mix, including retirements of coal generation and increasing investment in renewable generation.