Absorbing the Sun: Operational Practices and Balancing Reserves in Florida's Municipal Utilities

Elaine Hale, Ella Zhou

Research output: NRELPresentation


The Florida Reliability Coordinating Council (FRCC) power system is comprised of multiple balancing authorities ranging in size from Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) with a 2019 summer net firm demand of 429 MW to Florida Power & Light with a 2019 summer net firm demand of 22,510 MW; and including cooperative, municipal, and investor-owned utilities. As all of these balancing authorities are and have plants to continue installing significant quantities of utility-scale solar photovoltaics, one relevant question is how much operating reserves they will need to hold as solar penetrations increase. While there are estimates of how regulating and flexibility reserve requirements change with solar penetration, the literature almost exclusively focuses on large balancing authorities with sub-hourly dispatch. In this work we analyze how reserve needs change not only with solar photovoltaic penetration, but also balancing authority size and operational practices. We find that, measured as a fraction of load, smaller balancing authorities with less frequent load and solar forecasts and less frequent dispatch need more reserves. Such utilities' reserve needs also increase more with increasing solar deployment as compared to larger or more frequently dispatched balancing authorities. These impacts are most acute for GRU. We find that moving from day-ahead to hour-ahead load and solar forecasting and system dispatch could enable GRU to incorporate 32% solar generation with median reserves at 20% instead of 60% of load; and that median reserve needs could drop further to about 10% of load if Florida's municipal utilities formed a reserve sharing group and moved to sub-hourly dispatch.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages44
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the Florida Alliance for Accelerating Solar and Storage Technology Readiness (FAASSTeR) Webinar, 14 January 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-6A20-78306


  • balancing authority
  • operating reserves
  • power systems
  • solar photovoltaics


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