Report Reveals How Utility Executives Look at the Role of DERMS

As distributed energy resources (DERs) start to play a role in the power picture, utilities are considering how to use distributed energy resource management systems (DERMS) to effectively manage these resources. Enbala, a leading provider of DERMS and a Smart Grid Northwest member, recently performed a study with Zpryme that talked to 150 utility executives about their views of DERMS.

The respondent pool breaks down this way:

  • 48% were IOUs
  • 56% from electric utilities
  • 26% were from the Northeast and 14% from the Northwest
  • 43% work in organizations with annual revenue over US$1B

These executives received detailed questions about their thoughts and plans for distributed resource energy management and the deployment of DERMS solutions. At a very high level, it became clear that they recognized the importance of analytics-based software in managing and integrating vast amounts of DERs. But they’re still in the early stages.

DERMS Deployments Are Just Getting Started

Only a small minority (11%) of respondents said their utility is moving ahead with large-scale deployment. Most of them are either in the planning/investigatory stage (34%) or pilot testing (34%).

DERMS deployment status. Source: Enbala study

DERMS Cuts Across Departments

According to the respondents, it won’t just be Operations and Engineering that rely on DERMS to manage the grid. The IT group will need to be involve to ensure access to data and compute resources, while planning will need it to pursue a cohesive approach for balancing grid demand. As DERs become more commonplace, they will become part of the customer relationship and maintenance as well.

DERMS department impact. Source: Enbala study

Expected Use Cases Start With Grid Planning

Given that DERMS touches so many functions, utilities are exploring a wide range of use cases. Most often mentioned was Grid Planning, closely followed by Managing Equipment Capacity Constraints, and then Mitigating Voltage Issues with Real Power Output.

DERMS use cases. Source: Enbala study

Top Use Cases

These are just three of the areas explored in the research. Download the report to see more results and analysis around application roles and integration, staff responsibilities and relative importance of DERMS.