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MPSC submits electric grid integration study to Legislature, lays out recommendations and next steps to address impacts of increased demand and distributed energy resources

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The Michigan Public Service Commission today submitted a study on power grid integration in Michigan to the state Legislature, outlining impacts and recommendations for addressing growth in demand for electricity posed by increased adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and other moves toward electrification and next steps for integration of distributed energy resources (DERs) into the state’s distribution grid.

The Michigan Senate, in Senate Resolution 143 of 2020, requested that the MPSC study issues around integration of customer-owned electric generation resources such as wind, solar and energy storage. Noting that Michigan’s electric grid wasn’t built to accommodate modern electrification demands or major amounts of distributed generation (DG), the Senate requested the MPSC work with Michigan’s utilities on a study looking at issues including reliability, interconnection, growth of DERs, potential changes to grid design and operation, and the costs, benefits and other impacts.

This study advanced the Commission’s MI Power Grid initiative, which was launched in 2019 as a multiyear, collaborative effort to maximize the benefits of Michigan’s transition from large, centrally located power plants to smaller distributed, clean energy resources. The MI Power Grid Distribution System Data Access workgroup spearheaded the grid integration study, working with utility representatives, subject matter experts and other stakeholders. The MPSC also received valuable technical assistance and expertise from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The Grid Integration Study Report released today explores potential grid impacts from expanded integration of DERs, EVs and other electrification trends, how those impacts could change grid design and operation, and the costs and benefits. The study also explored ways to lower administrative costs for contractors, developers, site hosts, and customers, and the benefits of having publicly accessible, bidirectional mapping and grid-integration tools to prepare for growth in demand and DG.

The study lays out a series of recommendations to address such concerns and next steps for expanded integration of DERs to the distribution grid.

Among the recommendations:

  • Improving utility hosting capacity maps, which show areas where grids can take additional DG, and data available to support DER integration. The recommendations include consideration of substation-level statistics on load, the ability to export or download data, and the ability to display data on geographic information systems (GIS) maps, while also protecting customer data and privacy.
  • Changing the vocabulary and appearance of publicly accessible hosting capacity maps to make them clearer to customers and DER developers. Using color coding similar to that used by utilities in other states would help with identifying areas with high, moderate, or little existing hosting capacity.
  • Exploring establishing a minimum level of electric service available to all residential customers, which would in turn ensure that the electric distribution grid could accommodate DERs and EVs; the adoption of which may require customer service panel upgrades for older residential homes. These upgrades could be costly for residential customers and may also require commensurate upgrades on the utility side of the meter. Ensuring equitable access to DERs and EVs will require leveraging federal programs and other funding sources.
  • Investigating the costs and best practices for automating hosting capacity maps so that the maps are updated on a more regular basis.
  • Developing successor distributed generation tariffs and direct current fast charging (DCFC) EV charging tariffs, recognizing the influence that rate design can have on these matters.


The full report is available at the MPSC’s website.


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