California takes the next step toward implementing advanced inverter standards

The Smart Inverter Working Group recommendations were formally submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on February 19 for adoption in 2014.

Craig Lewis

Pairing advanced inverters with distributed generation (DG) can make the power grid more reliable and efficient.  As a result, the Clean Coalition has been pushing for widespread adoption of advanced inverters, as well as standards to enable the full value of this technology to the grid.

We supported the formation of the Smarter Inverter Working Group and actively participated, while also working on Phase II of California’s update to its Rule 21 Distribution Interconnection Standards.

The newly developed Smart Inverter Working Group recommendations anticipate the needs and capabilities of the distribution grid as penetration levels of local renewables increase, drawing from the European Union’s experience utilizing solar PV inverters to provide reactive power support.  In Europe, advanced inverters have proven to be one of the most cost-effective improvements to the reliability and efficiency of the power grid when paired with DG.  However, delays implementing advanced inverter functionality in Europe did lead to avoidable upgrades and some inverter retrofits – proving that implementation of advanced inverter standards in California and other rapidly developing U.S. markets will be essential to bringing high penetrations of DG online quickly and cost-effectively.

Beyond simply supporting higher levels of renewables on the grid, establishing appropriate standards for advanced inverters will greatly improve grid operation by:

  • Providing fast-acting, local grid support in response to changes in frequency, reactive power, and real power requirements
  • Allowing DG to provide local voltage support along feeder lines, mitigating both under and over-voltage
  • Providing greatly increased visibility into the operating characteristics of the distribution grid
  • Supporting both autonomous, automated response to grid conditions and respond to utility operation adjustments
  • Reducing system upgrades required to support higher penetrations of DG, while also simplifying and speeding up interconnection studies

The Smart Inverter Working Group recommendations were formally submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on February 19 for adoption in 2014.  Once adopted, utilities will be allowed to utilize advanced inverter functionality in operations, and new inverters will be required to meet the standards by the end of 2015.

Craig Lewis

Founder and Executive Director

Craig has over 20 years of experience in the renewables, wireless, semiconductor, and banking industries. Previously VP of Government Relations at GreenVolts, he was the first to successfully navigate a solar project through California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard solicitation process. Craig was also the energy policy lead on Steve Westly’s 2006 California gubernatorial campaign, and his resume includes senior government relations, corporate development, and marketing positions at leading wireless, semiconductor, and banking companies such as Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Barclays Bank.