DER Electricity Market Participation

DER Electricity Market Participation

DER Electricity Market Participation

Distributed Energy Resources (DER) deployment can be expensive. In order to maximize their uptake, regulators, market operators, aggregators and equipment manufacturers are interested in harnessing their potential to provide market-based grid services that lower their life-cycle costs.  Market prices for electricity and ancillary services are transparent and attractive, but unlocking that potential revenue stream is complicated and may face significant policy barriers. Our research attempts to highlight these barriers and develop control solutions to enable integration of DER into wholesale electricity and ancillary service markets.

Modern eco house with solar panels and wind turbines and an electric car. What We Do

We approach this important topic from both a policy and engineering perspective:

  • We analyze market opportunities and elucidate the barriers to unlocking this value. 
  • We develop hierarchical control and optimization approaches to manage DER to provide power systems services that target providing the appropriate interactions with wholesale electricity and ancillary services markets in the US and are consistent with those market timelines.  
  • We analyze the degree to which participation in ancillary service markets may create additional energy consumption, which will result in a marginal cost of service provision.  
  • We demonstrate our work with live control signals from market operators in CAISO and PJM, and we have participated as an active resource in financially binding service provision with CAISO.  


Opportunities and Barriers for Demand Response in Ancillary Service Markets

In this work, in coordination with Berkeley Lab’s Electricity Markets and Policy Department, we evaluated the opportunity for demand response resources to participate in wholesale markets.  This included a description of the relevant market rules at the time, an analysis of the wholesale market prices for ancillary services, and a systematic discussion of the market and policy barriers for resources to provide these services.

LA AFB Vehicle to Grid Pilot

Created optimization and control system for largest vehicle-to-grid integration demonstration to date with 29 bi-directional charge/discharge EVs participating in day-ahead CAISO ancillary services regulation (up and down) market that required 4-second response.

Images of Vehicles Charging

Load as a Frequency Regulation Market Resource

In this work we developed and demonstrated a hierarchical control approach for provision of frequency regulation from commercial building HVAC systems using Berkeley Lab’s FLEXLAB® facility.

Project Highlights

  • Three-level control hierarchy that provides Frequency Regulation while maintaining space temperature for occupant comfort.
  • Frequency regulation tested with a live control signal from PJM, achieved average 96% accuracy.
  • FLEXLAB® testing in identical test cells allowed for a measured control cell to operate as the demand response baseline.
  • ​Evaluated energy loss caused by demand response actions and performed comparative analysis to the demand response efficiency literature.

The project was coordinated by CERTS ( and funded through DOE’s Office of Electricity.

Federated Architecture for Secure and Transactive Distributed Energy Resource Management (FAST-DERMS)

FAST-DERMS is a novel utility control architecture that enables the provision of reliable, resilient, and secure distribution and transmission grid services through:

  • Scalable aggregation and near real-time management of utility-scale and small-scale distributed energy resources via reliability-constrained stochastic optimal commitment and dispatch.
  • ​Seamless integration of any centralized distribution management system (DMS), transmission energy management system (EMS), DER aggregator or virtual power plant (VPP), microgrid management system (MGMS), and transactive or distributed stochastic DER controls.

A DOE Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium Project, led by partner lab NREL.

Community Control of DER for Wide Area Reserve Provision

This project aims to develop and demonstrate algorithms for advanced distribution management systems (ADMS) that allow DERs to improve distribution system operations and simultaneously contribute to transmission-level services by:

  • Elevating load buses to the level of generator buses with respect to the degree of control authority they present to system operators. 
  • Simultaneously optimizing distribution-level measures, such as equipment capacity and nodal voltage magnitudes.
  • Limit impacts of distribution model error by employing real-time, model free control.
  • Integrate and demonstrate algorithms into our partner’s commercially available Network Management System.

A DOE Office of Electricity and Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium Project, in the Advanced Distribution Management Systems area.


Jason MacDonald

Principal Scientific Engineering Associate
(510) 486-7085