eLab Accelerator 2018

Southern Company Non-Wires Alternatives

Project Objective

- Identify priority opportunities for use of distributed energy resources and non-wires alternatives
- Identify regulatory process to enable non-wire alternatives within regulated cost-of-service context

Team Members

  • Leslie Sibert: Southern Company; VP of Grid Edge Technology and Development

  • Andrew Ingram: Southern Company; Research Engineer

  • Rob Harris: PowerSecure; Chief Technology Officer

  • Ben Edgar: Black & Veatch; Business Development Manager: DER & Microgrids

  • Mike Bush: Southern Company; Retail Generation Development Manager

  • Howard Smith: Southern Company; Marketing Manager

  • Ivan Urlaub: North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association; Executive Director

Project Description

Southern Company is interested in collaborating with customers, developers, and vendors on providing solutions to grid issues that include distributed energy resources (DER) and other new technologies. There are a variety of grid issues that can be solved using non-wire alternative methods. Energy storage can assist with the integration of DER, providing precise power input for a customer’s load, or deferring expensive grid upgrades. Microgrids can provide resiliency to critical customers or isolated communities. New power electronics can make distribution and transmission systems more flexible and resilient. Southern Company would like to draw up a blueprint, adaptable to our separate electrical operating companies, on how to recover costs for these various non-wired improvements to the grid. Southern’s operating companies would then decide whether to take the blueprint, or parts of it, adapt it their particular regulatory environment, and take it to their respective regulators for approval.

Progress Made to Date (pre-Accelerator)

Southern Company has explored issues through internal conversations, but has not yet established a regulatory process for non-wires alternatives.

Post-Accelerator outcomes

At Accelerator, the team first aligned on key issues, terms, and challenges with respect to the use of non-traditional planning solutions in Southern Company regulated service territories. The team recognized the importance of first convincing internal stakeholders at Southern Company of the importance of non-wires alternatives and distributed energy resources in corporate strategy. Once the team was aligned on major issues, it began writing a draft position statement, proposing an updated Southern Company approach to non-wires alternatives.