Recently, I have been attempting to find information about Distribution System Operator’s (DSO) in the United States but have had a difficult time. After the restructuring of the power system in the U.S., proper documentation is present for Independent System Operator (ISO), and other entities but a lack of documentation for DSO. I found that DSOs are still connected with retailers in majority of regions in the United States. Thus, the distribution system in many cases is owned by the retailer. Although, unlike the US, many parts of Europe have successfully unbundled DSOs and retailers.

For example, UK has 16 DSOs in its region. This gives consumers the ability to chose a retailer. Currently, I cannot chose a retailer where I live because the distribution system is owned by the retailer I use. If I wanted another retailer, it is just not possible until the distribution network has open-access for all utility companies.

Domestic and most commercial consumers buy their electricity from suppliers who pay the DSOs for transporting their customers’ electricity along their networks. Suppliers pass on these costs to consumers. Distribution costs account for about 20 per cent of electricity bills.

ERCOT is one of a few areas in the U.S. that has unbundled DSOs and retailers. Below is a pricing table for Use Of System (UoS) costs which all retailers have to pay:

ERCOT DSO Use of System Costs

Current Role of DSO

The current role of DSOs is to perform maintenance and asset management. If an outage occurs, they are the first to respond. Unlike the TSO, who has an active role in the transmission network, the DSO is an offline” entity that does not have control over the energy consumption system.

More Information

For more information, these resources below are helpful:

[1] “Texas nodal market guide,” tech. rep., ERCOT, 2010.

[2] “Use of system charging statement,” tech. rep., UK Power Networks, 2013.

[3] “The market guide: An introductory guide to how the electric reliability council of texas (ercot) facilitates the competitive power market,” tech. rep., ERCOT, 2005.

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