LADWP to use $48m GRIP grant to build Distributed Energy Resource Management System
Wednesday, January 3, 2024
by: Justine Brown

Section: CMUA News

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) $48 million in October to enhance its grid flexibility and improve the resilience of its power system. The grant will enable LADWP to build a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS), a technology-based tool the department will use to control distributed energy resources like Electric Vehicles (EVs) and EV chargers, energy storage, solar photovoltaic systems, and demand response infrastructure in response to grid needs. Doing so will enable LADWP to rebalance the electrical system quickly after an extreme climate event like wildfires, heatwaves, or tropical storms. 
“The grant will help us build digital infrastructure to understand what’s happening behind the meters,” said Denis Obiang, a power engineering manager at LADWP. “The power infrastructure has been in need of improvement over the years, and on top of that we have added many things to the grid, such as rooftop solar and EV charging. Some of those things can cause issues if they aren’t coordinated. Not understanding what those elements do to the grid makes it difficult to manage it well.”
The DERMS will manage all LADWP’s assets and give the department better visibility and control over each asset. “For example, it can tell you your capacity in a specific energy storage facility. You can tell an asset to charge, not charge, or to disconnect from the grid. That control and coordination will enable us to work in tandem with the grid, not in conflict with it,” added Obiang.
In addition to improved reliability, the DERMS will help LADWP when they experience reverse power flow because of excess solar. “When that happens, we want to understand where the excess solar is coming from so we can manage that better and ensure that the grid runs seamlessly,” said Obiang. “That means our customers will benefit from higher power quality and fewer outages caused by malfunctions.”
The grant will also enable LADWP to add more renewable energy to the city, specifically in disadvantaged communities that currently lack access to resources like rooftop solar and EV charging. “The grant will help ensure that all Angelenos have access to affordable and reliable clean electricity,” added Obiang.
LADWP’s grant is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office’s historic $10.5 billion investment via the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) also received a GRIP grant in October. According to a press release, SMUD also plans to use its grant to build a DERMS with centralized artificial intelligence and integrated Distributed Energy Resources to support the transition from a one-way centralized distribution system to a two-way decentralized system.

Justine Brown is a freelance writer located in Northern California.