NON-WIRE ALTERNATIVES, GOLDEN, DECEMBER 10-11, 2018
For utilities and other power system providers, when considering grid replacements and upgrades it is increasingly important in their capital and infrastructure financial and operational analyses to evaluate “non-wire alternatives” (NWA). These NWA are electricity grid investments and operating practices that employ non-traditional measures to defer, mitigate, or potentially eliminate the need for traditional utility transmission and distribution (T&D) investments. The main goal of a NWA project is to use a total lower resource cost solution to reduce transmission congestion or distribution system constraints, largely for times of maximum demand in specific grid areas. Thus, NWA projects defer or replace the need for specific equipment upgrades — such as T&D lines or transformers — by reducing load at a substation or circuit level. They include a range of different resources, technologies and operational processes, including but not limited to:
These non-wire alternatives (NWA) are expected to grow from $63 million in 2017 to $580 million in 2026 (Navigant Research). Though NWA offer the promise of potentially saving electric utilities and system operators significant amounts on grid investments, there is a higher perceived risk surrounding NWAs. These risks have much to do with the prevailing rate mechanisms that regulate more traditional utility capital expenses for grid maintenance.
This symposium will evaluate the viability of NWA projects as an emerging utility and power system resource option, analyzing how the industry can apply NWA measures to optimize existing assets and infrastructure. It will provide a thorough primer on NWA definitions, functions, technology and resource types, evaluating case studies of existing NWA projects, as well as what economic and regulatory incentives are necessary to make them viable through least-cost planning and action.