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UKPN confirms DSO path for the coming year

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Image: UKPN.

UK Power Networks has been buoyed by responses to its distribution system operator (DSO) plans after the results of a consultation showed that over 90% of respondents agreed with its approach.

The network company, responsible for the electricity cables and lines across London, the South East and East of England, unveiled its Future Smart consultation outlining its transition from a distribution network operator (DNO) in July 2017.

This included a DSO capability model centred on three key groupings - customer, markets and regulation; distribution system planning and operations; and enablers and security – a DSO roadmap to 2030, and a five point DSO strategy for the coming year.

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Image taken from UKPN's Future Smart consultation.

The consultation received 32 responses from customers, industry partners, government, community groups, generators, the regulator charities and suppliers, with the overwhelming majority said to agree with UKPN’s approach.

Sotiris Georgiopoulos, head of smart grid development, said: “We have already begun our transition to become a DSO so that we can empower and enable our customers and the communities we serve to benefit from a decentralised, decarbonised and digitised system.

“The responses we got to the consultation have given us confidence that we are going in the right direction, and given us inspiration for how we can continue to improve.”

In addition, the feedback also highlighted eight key areas of focus to which UKPN has outlined its solutions to address a series of customer requirements. These range from how customers can connect to the network and low cost free electric vehicle charging to support for community energy schemes and a forward-look at flexibility services.

Among the key themes is a plan to accelerate the roll-out of active network management to facilitate quicker and cheaper connections, a tactic that is known to have become commonplace at a number of DNOs; both SSE and WPD included similar strategies in their DSO transition plans.

It will also continue to run flexibility tenders for distributed energy resource (DER) after unveiling its target areas in August last year, while improving its understanding of flexibility needs.

The remaining themes UKPN will work on over 2017/18 include:

  • Support local energy growth through providing information and collaboration.
  • Educate and inform different customer groups of the transition to DSO and opportunities of the future of energy.
  • Improve network visibility and monitoring at the lower voltage levels to accommodate DER growth, prioritising areas where we see electric vehicle clustering.
  • Consider how vulnerability might change as a result of future energy developments and explore who will serve and respond to the needs of vulnerable customers.
  • Clarify the DSO’s roles and responsibilities as separation steps are taking place in National Grid at the transmission level.
  • Strengthen the collaboration between different energy sectors such as transport, heat and gas as will have an influence on electricity networks within a while systems approach.

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