Who Art Thou DSO?

By Doug Houseman

In the not distant future the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will have a major decision to make about how the distribution grid is operated. That decision will revolve around who will be allowed to be the Distribution System Operator (DSO). In various forums, a number of stakeholders have express opinions on who should be the DSO. Several have already made small moves to establish their credibility to be the DSO. The current list of potential operators are:

  1. The incumbent utilities
  2. The California ISO
  3. Communities that are operating CCAs
  4. A new independent organization, similar to the CAISO
  5. Solar City
  6. And a host of other private entities that would like the opportunity and revenue.

Each of these organizations can make a case for why they should be the DSO and what abilities they bring to being the DSO. Most have stated a case for how they will advance the various state policies and support the end customers. Each has support in the political arena from at least some important supporters. It is not a question of “IF” there will be a DSO, it is a question of “WHEN” and “WHO” will be the DSO.