Pepco Considers Non-Wires Alternatives, Issues RFI

Aug. 18, 2020
Pepco is seeking information on possible non-wires alternatives, such as distributed energy resources, to meet a looming constraint on its distribution system in Washington, DC.

Pepco is seeking information on possible non-wires alternatives, such as distributed energy resources, to meet a looming constraint on its distribution system in Washington, DC.

The request for information (RFI) grew out of the PowerPath DC grid modernization effort launched by the district’s utility commission in January. PowerPath DC includes a new distribution system planning process to allow open and transparent stakeholder engagement as well as a separate microgrid initiative.

There has been growing interest among state regulators in non-wires alternatives to distribution and transmission system upgrades. The alternatives can include distributed energy resources, demand response and microgrids.

Pepco has identified a substation that is expected to exceed 5% of its existing transformers’ firm capacity by 2026. Traditionally, Pepco would handle the constraint by installing a fifth transformer that was planned for the substation, according to the utility.

However, under the new planning process, Pepco will explore non-wires alternatives to meet its needs. Proposed non-wires projects must be at least as safe, affordable and reliable as a traditional upgrade, according to the RFI.

In the first year of the distribution system planning and non-wires alternative process, Pepco found nine other constraints on its system in the district, but, as expected, was already addressing them because they were near-term, the Exelon subsidiary said in a report earlier this month to the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia.

In its RFI, Pepco asked potential bidders to explain how their planned projects would support the district’s effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2032.

Responses to the RFI are due by September 10. The RFI is limited to commercial companies, district agencies and other stakeholders, according to the utility.

Pepco plans to hold a workshop on October 1 to discuss the RFP response format, non-wires alternatives contracting, and engagement between local and national respondents.

The Pepco RFI can be found here.

The workshop will also cover a methodology for weighing the benefits and costs of distributed resources Quanta Technology wrote for Pepco. The utility plans to use the methodology to
assess the value of proposed non-wires projects. The framework is based on one developed by Consolidated Edison in New York City.

Pepco said it plans to use input from the workshop to develop the final RFP, which will be issued November 1, with responses due three months later.

Noting the several states are moving toward requiring non-wires alternative analysis, Guidehouse Insights, formerly Navigant Research, in December estimated the market for non-
wires alternatives would grow by 20 percent a year to $333 million by 2028.

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About the Author

Ethan Howland

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