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Regional Smart Grid Project Wraps Up

July 2015
Regional Smart Grid Project Wraps Up
Portland General Electric installed a 5-megawatt, lithium-ion battery in Salem, Oregon, as part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project. Photo courtesy of Portland General Electric.

Intelligent energy technologies—such as smart meters, innovative batteries, and voltage controls—can improve energy efficiency and reduce power costs, according to final results from the five-year, $178-million regional Smart Grid Demonstration Project in the Pacific Northwest. Key findings and detailed results are documented in the 840-page Technology Performance Report, published in June 2015. The project, led by Battelle on behalf of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, spanned five states and included 11 utilities, the Bonneville Power Administration, two universities, and multiple companies. In all, the project evaluated 55 technologies; below are just a few examples that illustrate the benefits of smart technologies:

  • in Salem, Oregon, a 5-megawatt battery could save Portland General Electric up to $146,000/year by serving as an alternative power source during periods of peak power use.
  • in Helena, Montana, a new fault detection system installed by NorthWestern Energy minimized a power outage to just 51 seconds, while customers served by another line were without power for nearly two hours.

The project also evaluated a new energy management approach called transactive control. Transactive control consists of automated and electronic transactions for buying and selling power. During testing, transactive signals represented both current and future availability of power and the predicted price. Signals were updated every five minutes and sent to utilities. Predicted peak power demand, together with high costs, resulted in reduced power use.

To help test further, Alstom Grid built a model of the regional grid that ran in parallel with the actual grid. Two critical situations on the actual grid were detected and operations on the model grid altered their operations.

PNNL's Ron Melton, who served as the project director, stated, "Dramatic events such as these wouldn't normally be on the radar of individual utilities, but can significantly impact utility operations. Being able to respond to such events with transactive signals illustrates the importance of having system-wide transactive engagement. It also represents an important step toward a future where end users can be equipped and empowered to play an active role in their power use."

Due in part to the extensive equipment installed in the Northwest, regional smart grid efforts will continue. New projects are beginning at the state and federal level, with some projects being funded through Washington State's Clean Energy Fund. At a national level, DOE has launched the Grid Modernization Consortium to bring together leading energy experts to collaborate on the grid.

For more information, read the Battelle News Release.

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