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Restructuring Revisited Part 2: Coordination in Electricity Distribution Systems

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This paper addresses the mechanisms needed to coordinate vertically and horizontally disaggregated actors in electricity distribution systems. The mechanisms designed to coordinate planning, investments, and operations in the electric power sector were designed with minimal participation from either the demand side of the market or distributed energy resources (DERs) connected at distribution voltages. The emergence of DERs is now animating consumers and massively expanding the number of potential investors and participants in the provision of electricity services. We highlight how price signals - the primary mechanism for coordinating investments and operations at the transmission level - do not adequately coordinate investments in and operations of DERs with network infrastructure. We discuss the role of the distribution system operator in creating cost-reflective prices, and argue that the price signals governing transactions at the distribution level must increasingly internalize the cost of network externalities, revealing the marginal cost or benefit of an actor's decisions. Price signals considered include contractual relationships, organized procurement processes, market signals, and regulated retail tariffs. This paper is the second part of a two-part series on competition and coordination in rapidly evolving electricity distribution systems.

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Keywords: Competition, Coordination, Restructuring, Vertical Integration, Distributed Energy Resources, Distribution, Transmission, System Operation, Networks, Pricing, Tariffs

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.40.3.jjen

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Published in Volume 40, Number 3 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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