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PUC Seeks Public Comment on Use of Distributed Energy Resources

Updated: Mar 7

Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) is preparing to implement rules on the use of distributed energy resources, which are smaller-scale generation and storage technologies that provide electric capacity at various locations, rather than at a centralized power plant.

The state rule-making is in response to a recent order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is an independent agency of the federal government that “regulates the interstate transmission electricity, natural gas, and oil.” FERC Order No. 2222 was issued to “help usher in the electric grid of the future and promote competition in electric markets by removing the barriers preventing (the adoption of) distributed energy resources (DERs)”. The order allows and promotes the use of energy generated through distributed means to be sold in the American wholesale energy market through the electric grid.

DERs include various non-centralized systems that generate power in many different locations in a distributed manner, for example, solar panels installed on residential roofs or small-scale wind power located on private land.

These systems are often times intermittent in nature, as they only produce energy when the right conditions exist, and require immediate use of the energy generated. However, these systems can be equipped to feed the energy they generate back into the grid system. Allowing for the aggregation of these systems could benefit both owners of these systems and consumers, improving grid efficiency and supply stability by providing baseload power, which in turn could lower energy costs.

“For example, small rooftop solar systems could inject energy into the power grid, while managed charging by electric vehicles could absorb that electricity when it is plentiful – and at the same time smart thermostats or smart water heaters could shift customer demand to a different time of day, depending on the needs of the grid.” a PUC press release states.

The PUC Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin seeking comments from stakeholders regarding the regulation of DERs. In the press release, PUC vice chair Kimberly Barrow described the agency’s actions as an “important step in the process of allowing flexible, distributed resources to participate in the reliability of the electric systems through markets.” That will open a 60-day comment window on topics such as interconnection rules, metering requirements, financial aspects, oversight, and cybersecurity.

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