Solar and Distributed Energy are Modernizing the U.S. Electric Grid

Built during the last century, the United States electric grid was primarily designed to transport electricity from large central station power plants to end-use customers. But with rapid growth of distributed energy resources (DER) resulting from falling costs and technological advances, customers are increasingly taking charge of their own energy. These resources offer the promise of a more innovative, economic, and cleaner electric grid. DER, such as solar power, will play an important role providing power and grid services where they are needed most. To reach this goal, however, distribution grid planning must evolve to allow more transparency into system needs, enable more robust data exchange between utilities and DER providers, and include DER as a standard component of utility load forecasts.

To explore this important issue, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has produced a series of whitepapers that take an in-depth look at state-level efforts to modernize the electric utility grid. The fifth and final paper in this series, titled “DER and the Non-Wired Solutions Opportunity,” was released this month. The series explores the elements of electric grid modernization, compares the ways in which two leading states, California and New York, are tackling these issues, and discusses how these efforts are creating new opportunities for solar power. Grid modernization efforts in states present significant risks and opportunities for solar. These efforts will determine how much new solar and other distributed energy resources can interconnect to the grid, identify areas where solar can provide grid services in lieu of utility investments, and in some states, will shape the future of net energy metering.


To learn more about SEIA’s efforts to promote solar deployment nationwide and modernize the U.S. electric grid, or get involved through membership, contact