Mar 23, 2018

WPD takes active step toward new role

Three engineers from WPD stand pictured with cloudy skies and windmills in background.

The way we generate, distribute and consume electricity is changing due to advances in technology affecting the entire energy system. Generation is becoming cleaner and more distributed. Networks are becoming smarter and more active. And customers are seeking more renewable energy sources and cleaner transportation options with private solar and electric vehicles on the rise.

Always ready to adapt, Western Power Distribution has risen to these challenges by implementing innovative solutions to unlock additional network capacity.

Icon with graph depicting increasing shareholder value But, in order to meet the future energy demands of all customers, WPD recognizes that it is time to make a change.

In July 2017, WPD released its plan to transition from a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) to a Distribution System Operator (DSO). Through 2023, the company will invest nearly $164 million to implement a transition strategy that will drive performance and efficiency on the power grid.

“The company’s transition to a DSO model will support the customer adoption of electric cars, low carbon heating and distributed generation investment,” said WPD Operations

Director Phil Swift. “This is a natural extension of our current role as a DNO, and we are uniquely positioned to lead the management of an efficient and cost-effective electricity system at a local level.”

WPD is one of 14 DNOs in the U.K. whose job it is to move electricity, in one direction, from the high voltage transmission grid to industrial, commercial and residential users. The DNOs also support times of maximum demand and generation on the distribution grid. In addition, they are responsible for managing interconnections to the power grid, such as requests to add private solar and wind generation to the network. These requests have grown exponentially in recent years.

While a DNO typically provides passive network support, a DSO actively manages the flow of energy across the distribution system. In a world with increased distributed energy resources and private generation, a DSO balances the two-way flow of power across the local and regional network. To achieve balance, the DSO studies past and current flows of energy across the system, forecasts future energy volumes and then actively reconfigures the system as needed.

During the six-year transition, the company will focus on building a smarter, more secure grid that has the flexibility to accommodate distributed energy resources. It will also identify and adopt ways to increase network capacity through non-network solutions, such as energy storage and microgrids, and enhance coordination with the Transmission System Operator.

Read the 2017 Sustainability Report