By Ron Ambrosio
Later this month the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project (PNW-SGDP), the largest smart grid demonstration in the U.S., will be completed.
This five year-long project is the largest of 16 such projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. It spans five states and involves about 60,000 metered customers. The goals of the projects include helping create a more efficient and effective electricity infrastructure that does a better job of containing costs, lowering emissions, incorporating more renewable energy sources, improving grid reliability, and giving consumers greater flexibility.
One of the primary objectives of the project was to develop and test a Transactive Control system that uses economic value signals to distribute decision making throughout the electric grid to individual devices and users.
This two-way communication will help both customer and utility owned Distributed Energy Resources respond appropriately when power is cheapest, or when the electric system is under stress, so utilities can operate the system in the most efficient manner while still meeting their objective of providing highly reliable service. It will boost reliability to significantly shorten outages, including when renewable energy is online so end users can benefit from the Pacific Northwest’s clean energy when it’s most abundant.
The PNW-SGDP demonstrates the potential for a safe, scalable and interoperable smart grid for regulated and non-regulated utility environments.
Led by Battelle Memorial Institute, Northwest Division, the project spans Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and 11 distribution utilities. It also involves the primary system operator for the region, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and a team of organizations responsible for the regional system infrastructure that implemented the transactive control system.
For its part, IBM is providing a team of research scientist and engineers to support the design and implementation of solutions, lead the overall integration, and test them in real world deployments.
The PNW-SGDP was designed to continuously optimize multiple factors in the system, so the smart grid’s benefits can be fully experienced by consumers. Advancing and integrating all technologies so they seamlessly work together and provide effective management while extracting full value from data are just some of the challenges faced by the electricity system today. Transactive energy management is seen as an important method for augmenting existing business and operational approaches in the utility industry.
While there is still more work to be done, we are well along the path of making transactive energy management a viable technology for helping address the challenges facing the utility industry in the next few years, and we’re continuing to work with our partners in the industry to develop standards, understand policy and regulatory implications, and implement production-ready offerings.
Earlier this week at the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project Regional Symposium in Spokane, Washington, energy professionals came together to start a crucial dialogue on what the next steps should be taken for a regional, and potentially national, smart grid.Over the next few months the final reports for the PNW-SGDP will be completed and published.
The results of this project will have an impact on the future of transactive energy management in the utility industry, and will help lay the groundwork for moving this approach from demonstration to production in the coming years.