During the past two years, the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, or PNW-SGDP, has accomplished several key milestones that allow the region to chart path to a future power system. This year it is preparing to put several of the PNWSGDP’s unique technologies into action for the first time.

The PNW-SGDP kicked off its five year journey in February 2010. With $178 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and project participants (at a 50% cost share), and 60,000 participating consumers across five states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming), the PNW-SGDP is the largest smart grid demonstration project in the nation. The objectives are to:

  • Quantify smart grid costs and benefits;
  • Facilitate the integration of renewable resources;
  • Validate new smart grid technologies and business models;
  • Advance standards for interoperability and cyber security approaches; and
  • Provide two-way communication between distributed generation, storage and demand assets, and the existing grid infrastructure.

In 2011, the Project made strides toward accomplishing these goals. At the heart of its efforts is the advancement of the project’s transactive control methodology, a novel, two-way system that will enable responsive assets and energy generation across the region to produce and use electricity more efficiently. Imagine, for example, the problem of electric cars recharging their batteries during peak times of energy demand. Uncoordinated charging can lead to transformers overloading and general strain on the grid. With transactive control in place, responsive assets from plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to water heaters can respond to the system’s economic incentive and feedback signals and charge batteries and heat water without straining the grid....(read more...)