Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. (OG&E) has expanded testing of smart grid technology-supported equipment that can help the utility deliver energy more efficiently. During the summer of 2011, an additional 42 circuits equipped with capacitor controllers and 16 circuits with automatic reclosers were under scrutiny in the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S., area to better determine if Integrated Volt/VAR Control (IVVC) can reduce peak demand for power on the grid.
IVVC is an engineering solution that provides OG&E with automated intelligence to control voltage and power on the distribution lines. Results from testing in the summer of 2010 on four primarily residential circuits in Norman, Oklahoma, indicated IVVC has the potential to reduce peak demand for power from 0.8% to 2.4%.
“To some, that doesn't sound like much,” said Ken Grant, managing director of OG&E's smart grid program. “But to those of us in the utility industry, it represents another opportunity to delay the need to build new fossil-fuel power plants until at least 2020.”
In addition, last year's test results demonstrated that IVVC produces power factor improvement during those times when demand for power is not at its peak.
The investor-owned utility is partnering with The Structure Group for program management of its three-year smart grid deployment, which includes the installation of smart meters, a secure wireless network and smart equipment on OG&E's distribution system to increase reliability and reduce operational expenses.
Rafael Ochoa, smart grid practice lead at The Structure Group, described the IVVC testing as “critical to discovering the peak demand-reduction value of smart grid distribution automation.”
Ochoa stated, “We also know you have to coordinate with the other OG&E demand-response programs to make sure voltage remains at acceptable levels. Power delivery and reliability is something OG&E knows how to do well, but they want to get even better with new smart tools.”
This summer, OG&E completed the second half of a demand-response study with 6,000 residential and business customers to reduce peak demand. Interim results from last summer show every customer segment had a reduction in peak usage, with the greatest reductions during the highest peak price days and by study participants using programmable communicating thermostats.