Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), DER Aggregations, and Virtual Power Plants supporting the Power Grid

Information, Communication and Cyber Security

This workstream covered topics related to secure communication and information exchange to meet the evolving needs of DER aggregation participation in wholesale markets. The primary audience is ISO/RTOs, transmission operators, electric utilities, and DER aggregators. In addition, the recommendations could be relevant for state and federal regulators and DER customers (owners and operators of DERs). In terms of the scope, the workstream specifically provided assessments on five core areas: metering, telemetry, data information sharing, system interoperability and cyber security. The first three core areas have direct relevancy to Order 2222, whereas the remaining two are cut across the first three core areas. 

The five core areas are defined as:

  • Metering is the measurement of energy, either consumed or produced, used for settlements.

  • Telemetry is the ISO/RTO process(es) for direct measurement and communication of requisite physical, operational, and performance characteristics of a DER.

  • Data is the information related to DERs, actors, settlements, and performance monitoring of individual DERs.

  • Interoperability is the ability of the DER systems to exchange requisite data and information among the relevant smart grid domains and actors, markets, and networks.

  • Cyber security includes maintaining the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of requisite data and DER systems.

FERC Order 2222 creates a complex coordination equation between DERAs, distribution utilities, ISO/RTOs, and DERs, each with its own communication interface, data requirements, and protocols. The goal of the workstream was to consider the interactions between all the different stakeholders in a streamlined manner and provide better visibility into the DER operations. It highlighted the key considerations and gaps for the five core areas. The existing metering and telemetry infrastructure and data sharing approaches were reviewed extensively, along with the recent promising developments. In addition, different communication, data, and interoperability protocols were discussed. Importantly, the security vulnerabilities associated with the utilization and exchange of data were presented as well as their potential solutions.   

System Interoperability
Message Example Standards
Resource registration IEC 62325-452
Group definition IEC 61968-5
Market bidding IEC 62325-452
Market awards IEC 62325-452
Market schedule IEC 62325-452
Resource dispatch DNP3/IEC 61850
Resource interval meter data (NAESB) REQ 21—ESPI

Market message exchange standards.

Reference communications architecture

Reference communications architecture.


An example sequence of message exchanges in one of the collaboration models discussed in the workstream.

Source Target Message Contents
DER aggregator Market operator Resource registration
  • Resource location
  • Device locations and types
  • Markets and services
  • Capacity for each service
  • Distribution factors (for multimode)
  • Ramp rates
DER aggregator Market operator DER group definition
  • Device locations and types
  • Resource markets and services
Market operator DSO DER group definition
  • Device locations and types
  • Resource markets and services
DER aggregator Market operator Bidding
  • Price curves for each service
  • Biddable parameters (DF, ramp rate, etc.)
Market operator DER aggregator Market awards
  • Awards for each service; quantity and price
Market operator DER aggregator Resource schedule
  • Expected operating points
Market operator DSO Resource schedule
  • Expected operating points
Market operator DER aggregator Market dispatch
  • Operating points for the resource
DER aggregator Market operator Telemetry
  • Operating point for resource
  • Operating point for devices
DER aggregator Market operator Energy
  • Interval metered energy
Market operator DSO Energy
  • Interval metered energy
Market operator DER aggregator  Settlements
  • Price/quantity pairs
  • Energy accounting
  • Performance penalties

DER market participation exchanges.

Key Takeaways

  • Metering requirements may be different for different types of DER.
  • Telemetry and the cost of telemetry will play a critical role for DER participation in ISO/RTO markets. Therefore, ISO/RTOs must have clear telemetry requirements and guidelines that align with planning and operational needs, consider cost to DERAs, and align with rules for similar services.
  • When interoperability is low, resource integration costs tend to be high. The key to lower costs is standardization.
  • EPRI maintains a running list of DER information and protocol standards through the Information and Communication Technologies program.
  • The North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) Energy Services Provider Interface (ESPI) standardizes the business practices necessary for customers to share their meter data.
  • Additional research is required to determine an approach that could help standardize the common market interactions for aggregators, consistent with other resource types, without unnecessarily burdening the ISO/RTOs.
  • Additional research is needed to develop a scalable architecture to meet the needs of Order 2222 and to update relevant information and protocol standards to support the architecture.
  • Interfacing grid entities must establish their own security protocols, as Order 2222 does not specify requirements. Establishing mutual consensus on technologies, procedures, and security language within contractual agreements between grid parties is expected to be a major challenge.
  • A chain-of-trust framework will be required to inform the proper security protocols to be coordinated across a multi-party grid.

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