Planning for a Distributed Energy Future

GE's DSTAR consortium and its member utilities have been at the forefront of developing distributed energy planning strategies and tools for more than 30 years. See what we've accomplished for the industry below.

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Introduction to DSTAR

Who We Are

D

Distribution

S

Systems

T

Testing

A

Application

R

& Research

Duke Energy

Portland General Electric

Operating History

Throughout its more than 30 year history, DSTAR has provided its member utilities with results that are directly applicable to everyday distribution design, planning, engineering, operations, and maintenance. The DSTAR model offers utilities a cost-effective and responsive way to address complex distributed energy challenges that require unique and  innovative solutions. The members cooperatively fund research enabling each utility to to get significant research and development value out of their individual contributions

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For nearly four decades DSTAR has performed testing, developed software and  engineering guidelines for practical distribution planning and engineering.

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DSTAR membership has included over 30 utilities and organizations that have had a direct role in proposing, authorizing, and guiding projects for their benefit.

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DSTAR members meet in person twice per year, engage in monthly calls, and participate in frequent project reviews to exchange ideas and discuss best practices.

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Since the inception of DSTAR, GE Energy Consulting has managed the consortium, providing efficient administration and valuable expertise to the members.

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DSTAR is a unique, efficient, member-driven organization focused on pragmatic distribution research and development for today's competitive utility environment.

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Key Projects Highlight

BEST PRACTICES FOR STORM RESPONSE
Impact of Distributed Energy Resources

BEST PRACTICES FOR STORM RESPONSE ON U.S. DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS

DSTAR commissioned a comprehensive report to examine the practices, procedures and experiences of U.S. utilities during major storm occurrences with the goal of understanding and conveying what went right and what went wrong during the build-up, restoration and ramp-down phases. This included appreciating how utilities harden their systems to withstand storm elements, how they prepare, train and drill storm-duty personnel, available tools and processes for storm tracking and damage prediction, how they organize and manage response activities, procedures for assessment, repairing and switching, communications, and technology use. The final report concludes with 144 practical recommendations based on recent utility experiences with major storms.
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Impact

DSTAR members have cited the Storm Response report as one of the most downloaded and useful DSTAR reports. When NRECA cooperative members experienced the worst damage to their system since Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989 from winter ice storm Pax, they went back through their after action plan and pulled out the DSTAR report on "Best Practices for Utility Storm Response.” They found it to be "an excellent resource and a very comprehensive document" and use it as a reference when reviewing and updating their Storm and Emergency Response Plan.
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BEST PRACTICES FOR STORM RESPONSE
Impact of Distributed Energy Resources

Impact of Distributed Energy Resources on Distribution Systems

DSTAR members have proposed and authorized several projects to investigate the impact of DER on distribution. In Project 8-8, DSTAR performed a comprehensive study of "Distributed Generation Impact on Distribution Systems" that reviewed the characteristics of several technologies, including CHP, fuel cells, microturbines, wind, PV and battery energy storage; distribution performance issues; and impact on system reliability. Project 13-9 followed up with a study of the "Impact of Photovoltaic (PV) Generation on Distribution Systems". This well-received study focused on PV, the fastest growing type of generation, and examined many of the unique issues related to converter technologies, solar resource, voltage impacts, faults and protection, islanding, harmonics, and bulk system impacts. More recently in Project 15-6, DSTAR developed state-of-the-art analysis tools to quantify and visualize the impact of PV of distribution feeders. 
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Impact

Due to industry trends, this series of projects on DER impact has been extremely popular, and useful for the members. Member utilities have used P8-8 and P13-9 to guide planning and engineering decisions for feeders with DER, and to advocate for policy changes. P15-6 has allowed utility members to quickly assess how PV projects in their queue would impact feeder performance, and easily identify areas where upgrades are needed.
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Where is DSTAR Headed?

Leading the Next Evolution of Electric Power

Preparing for the "electrification of everything"

Driven by the emergence of renewable energy as a mainstream source of electricity, the falling costs of energy storage and the continued evolution towards a more distributed electric power system, there is the very real possibility that much of what's driven by combustion today could be driven by electrification in the near future. This level of electrification could have significant impacts on how distribution utilities plan, engineer and operate their systems. GE stands ready to support DSTAR and its members with reaearch and development projects that will not only help them see around corners, but already be around those corners,  prepared for the reliability and economic implications of the "electrification of everything".

Grid Modernization

The U.S. electric utility industry is in a state of evolution. The traditional model that was set up almost a century ago to enable the cost of service to be socialized over a wide customer base via volumetric rates is being challenged by emerging technologies, particularly distributed energy resources (DERs), ambitious regulatory policies, and shifting customer expectations. This has led the industry to begin rethinking the traditional role of the distribution utility and the business and regulatory models that have persisted for the last 100 years. DSTAR projects have developed tools and algorithms that can be applied to give insight into key stakeholder questions and to help adapt to disruptive forces. More importantly, DSTAR work can provide a roadmap and the navigational steps toward grid modernization. 

DSTAR Stats

$1MM

Estimated Annual Transformer Spend Savings for One Utility

34

Utilities who have Participated in DSTAR

105+

Total Number of Project completed

17

Number of Software Tools
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DSTAR's Impact on the Industry

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Early in its history, DSTAR executed ground-breaking testing projects to evaluate (among others) underground cable ampacity, impulse-duty aging of underground cables, ferroresonant overvoltages and padmount transformer current withstand. These projects led to pragmatic engineering guidelines which are still in demand, and used by many utilities today. Recent testing projects include elbow and overhead arrester design evaluation, solid-blade switch testing, and impulse testing of electronic capacitor controllers.

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DSTAR has produced over 20 software programs and algorithms, an electronic distribution data handbook (eHandbook), and engineering apps for mobile devices. Popular applications include transformer and life-cycle economic evaluation tools, cable pulling analysis, guy tension and pole loading calculations, transformer sizing and load estimation, lighting design, and secondary electrical design software. DSTAR members have saved millions of dollars and improved system performance through the use of DSTAR engineering tools.

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Over its history, DSTAR has evaluated numerous distribution technologies, and produced key reports that informed members on industry issues and perspectives. Recent impactful projects include: Best Practices for Storm Response (P11-7), Transformer DOE Standards Evaluation (P11-9), Improving Utility Energy Efficiency (P12-4), Changing Nature of Loads and the Impact on Utilities (P12-6), Impact of PV Generation on Distribution Systems (P13-9), Smart Grid Impact on Distribution Reliability (P13-10), Centralized vs. Distributed Feeder Automation and Impacts On Distribution Performance (P13-6), and Best Practices for Integration of Utility Applications (P14-6).

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DSTAR's focus over the years has been on developing practical engineering guidelines for distribution planning and engineering, developing engineering software tools, evaluating distribution technologies, and providing industry perspectives for its members. 

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Conclusion

DSTAR is Future-Ready

Building on our experience

DSTAR and its members are uniquely prepared for the challenges a more distributed energy future, that electrifies nearly everything, could bring to the industry. We benefit from, and take advantage of, the collective experience and expertise our members have developed through more than 30 years of reearch and development through DSTAR. Our member utilities are evolving with and helping shape the distributed energy future with custom tools and practices, while many others are starting from scratch. 

Better Together

Get the Most Out of Your Investment

A little can go a long way with a DSTAR membership. With a relatively modest investment DSTAR utilities get the benefits of the entire library of results from past DSTAR research and development projects, as well as the custom software tools developed for and in those projects. On top of the benefits of past R&D, each DSTAR utility gets to choose their own R&D project, as well as benefit from the results of projects chosen and funded by the other member utilities. DSTAR can be the ultimate in value for limited R&D budgets.  

Don't get left behind!

Contact us to learn how DSTAR can help you prepare for the distributed energy evolution