Proposal over EV charging control sets DNOs at odds with new flex market

Network company SSEN has put forward proposals that would allow distribution network operators (DNOs) to halt vehicle charging in the event of stress on the local grid. The proposal was seen by companies speaking to New Power as likely to damage the nascent energy flexibility market – especially because the proposer suggested DNO powers should be set wider, saying alongside the proposal that, “SSE Networks believes that DNOs should manage household load as they are best placed to respond to alerts when the network is experiencing stress”.

Tom Callow, head of strategy and public affairs at EV charging company Chargepoint, which operates the Polar network of on-street chargers as well as supplying home chargers, said Chargepoint had a “very strong view that DNOs shouldn’t be able to do that [cut off EV chargers]”. He suggested it was discriminatory: why should an electric vehicle user be disadvantaged if their neighbour was using a power shower or other large domestic load?

 

Who controls power in the home?

Toby Ferenczi, director of strategy at Ovo, told New Power Report there was a fundamental principle at stake. “We have created a deregulated market structure that separates users of the network from owners. This proposal crosses that line. The network operator would have the ability to deliver a service [managing constraints] to itself.” He said that would involve curtailing distributed resources for free.

He said Ofgem had made it clear that DNOs (and DSOs) would not be allowed to own and operate storage – other than in exceptional circumstances. “Exactly the same should apply here.” He said Ovo “disagrees with the stated need for the network operator to have direct control” over these assets. “I don’t think it would be easier or faster – technology can provide both.”

The DNO “would get a grid-balancing service for free under this mandate”, he said, comparing it with the transmission network where the system operator – soon to be independent – procures balancing services. “You can’t coerce network users to provide a service,” he said. Instead, all network operators should set price signals to encourage the right behaviours.

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Further reading

Northern Powergrid: give DSOs options on storage

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