Distribution Feeder-Scale Fast Frequency Response via Optimal Coordination of Net-Load Resources Part I: Solution Design

Blake Lundstrom, Sourav Patel, Murti Salapaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus Citations


This paper is the first of a two-part series that develops and experimentally demonstrates a first-of-its-kind hierarchical control solution for optimally dispatching thousands of deferrable loads and distributed energy resources (DERs) across a distribution feeder to provide fast frequency response (FFR) within 500 ms to the bulk power system. This approach rapidly coordinates resources online after a frequency event occurs, allowing fast-changing, behind-the-meter (BTM) resources to be incorporated and aggregate FFR power set points to be achieved more quickly and accurately than existing approaches. We also present a solution for determining the optimal amount of headroom to operate solar inverters with to minimize opportunity cost while ensuring the FFR response viability of a building with the inverter and deferrable loads. In Part I, we develop practical algorithms for fast, cost-based optimal dispatch at multiple aggregation scales (single building, multiple buildings, and full distribution feeder), establish their optimality, and demonstrate via simulation that they are faster than state-of-the-art, coordinated frequency response approaches. In Part II, the entire platform is implemented and experimentally verified using a unique power hardware-in-the-loop demonstration, including more than 100 powered loads and DERs connected to a real-world distribution network model and over 10,000 net-load resources dispatched.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1289-1302
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Smart Grid
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-76050


  • coordinated response
  • demand response
  • DER
  • distributed energy resources
  • fast frequency response
  • flexible load
  • primary frequency control


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