Solar Builder

SEP-OCT 2017

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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Page 9 of 55

10 S E P T E M B E R / O C TO B E R 2 0 1 7 Speaking of grid modernization, the Solar E nergy Industries Association released the sec- ond paper in its series on the topic. In "Improving Distribution System Planning (DSP) to Incorporate Distributed Energy Resources," SEIA focuses on the distribution planning process and where tweaks in that pro- cess could benefit all involved — all of which comes back to transparency of data. "Given the importance of understanding the underlying grid needs that drive hosting capac- ity analyses and locational values, transparency is critical," the paper states. "If the cost-effec- tiveness of distributed energy resources and/or their compensation is going to be dictated by the cost of the needs they are offsetting, there is a reasonable expectation that those costs be made publicly available." Greater data transparency and non-utility solutions for meeting grid needs also present a new opportunity to address the old problem of ensuring that utility expenditures are reason- able. Some suggestions from the paper that we liked: Utilities providing data in less cumber- some formats (currently often entombed in locked spreadsheets and PDFs) so that interested stakeholders can actually swift- ly access it and use it. Being more transparent with power flow modeling data that determines where upgrades are needed for the distribution system to handle load. Transparency here would help reduce interconnection costs and uncertainty for developers. Taking a cue from New York where utili- ties are establishing a distribution system platform provider for their service territo- ry. These DSPs will be operated by the utility and generate revenue through the establishment of a to-be-determined plat- form service fee, but remain separated by a firewall from the utility's traditional role as a distribution company. INTERWEBS ON THE We have more from Keller on what's holding back further solar innovation, as well as some potential solu- tions, starting on page 20. GRASSROOTS PROGRESS Elena Foukes Lucas, co-founder of UtilityAPI, took the stage last at Intersolar's opening session, and it felt like the right capper to the event. Here's her story: She was just another person working inside the giant halls of Pacific Gas and Electric in 2013. She attended an Intersolar and was taken by a speaker on stage who noted the need for more transparency in utility data. She and her co-founder Daniel Roesler (whom she met randomly at Intersolar) decided to work on this issue. What emerged from this spark of an idea in 2014 was UtilityAPI, which is now basically the data conduit between solar innovators and installers and utilities. "Solar innovators request data from a homeowner, they grant it, then we collect the data and provide it to the installer who can assess the site," she says. "We add value from the customer acquisition side, in that initial assessment and also through and after installation. Are you actually providing value to that consumer? Are you saving them money? What does that energy storage value look like?" UtilityAPI is now serving more than 20 utilities across the country, all because Foukes Lucas showed up and tried something. Maybe enthusiasm and interest in innovation are just as important as political power for transforming the grid after all. Now, about those doubloons… Chris Crowell is managing editor of Solar Builder. Elena Foukes Lucas, co-founder of UtilityAPI. SHOW ME THE DATA

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