DOE announces five awards to modernize electric grid

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Washington, D.C., November 17, 2010 – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced an investment from the Department of Energy of more than $19 million for five projects aimed at optimizing the nation’s electric grid.

Collectively, these projects will apply technologies, tools and techniques that are capable of transforming the electric grid into a system that is cleaner and more efficient, reliable, resilient and responsive.

The projects announced today also support the administration’s goal of building the infrastructure necessary to bring clean, low-cost energy sources to American homes and businesses.

“These innovative projects will greatly enhance the reliability, efficiency, and resource diversity of the nation’s electric grid,” said Secretary Chu. “Developing smart grid technologies will give consumers choice and promote energy savings, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy resources.”

Smart grid technologies can help modernize the nation’s electric grid by employing remote control and automation, two-way communications, and information technology to better inform consumers and utilities.

These technologies are beginning to be used on electricity networks, from power plants and wind farms to the electricity consumers in homes and businesses receive.

In addition to enabling the integration of an increasing amount of new renewable energy sources into the electric grid, smart grid technologies can potentially reduce energy costs by providing consumers with the information they need to better manage their energy use.

DOE is working with industry, universities, national laboratories, and other groups to conduct research, development and demonstration projects that lead to commercially available smart grid technologies.

The selections will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of smart grid technologies in three research areas: integrated modeling and analysis tools to automate distribution; advanced sensing, monitoring, and control technologies to enhance asset use and grid reliability; and voltage regulation for high penetration of renewable generation.

The projects selected today include:

* Areva T&D, Inc. (Redmond, Wash.) is designing and testing an innovative platform for integrating distributed energy resources into the electric grid. Distributed energy resources are smaller-scale energy sources designed to provide electricity in locations close to consumers, such as home solar panels, energy storage and electric vehicle charging.

The project will develop models and analytical tools for seamlessly integrating distributed energy resources with smart meters, demand response, and advanced sensors, with a demonstration planned for a distribution circuit serving a suburb of Charlotte, N.C.

DOE funding: $6,000,000; Total Project Value: $10,459,495.

Project Team Members: Duke Energy Co., Charlotte, N.C.; University of Washington, Seattle Wash.; University of Connecticut, Storrs, Conn.; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash.

* Boeing Co. (Saint Louis, Mo.) will demonstrate a smart, highly-automated, secure, and self-healing electric distribution management system that will allow for integration of a greater amount of customer-owned energy resources and automation into the distribution system, increasing the value of energy resources to both end-use customers and utilities. A demonstration will be conducted on ComEd’s distribution system in the greater Chicago area.

DOE funding: $6,000,000; Total Project Value: $10,429,157.

Project Team Members: Spirae, Inc, Fort Collins, Colo.; Viridity Energy Inc., Conshohocken, Pa.; EDSA Micro Corp., San Diego and Raleigh, N.C.; Commonwealth Edison Co., Chicago.

* ABB Inc. (Raleigh, North Carolina) will research, develop, and demonstrate a real-time monitoring, control, and health management system to improve grid reliability and efficiency. It will utilize digital data from sensors and substation Intelligent Electronic Devices to continuously monitor system performance.

Using real-time information, utility control center operators will be able to address outages, power quality issues and other anomalies to reduce the frequency and duration of outages. A demonstration will be conducted on Xcel Energy’s distribution system in Denver.

DOE funding: $2,993,006; Total Project Value: $4,123,923.

Project Team Members: Xcel Energy, Denver; Texas A&M, College Station, Texas

* Varentec, Inc. (North Andover, Mass.) will conduct research and development on a wide range of next-generation power electronics devices to better integrate renewable resources.

Using an innovative circuit design with an integrated battery energy storage system, the project’s goal is to deliver a fast response to rapid voltage changes arising from grid-connected renewable resources. The prototype and full-scale solution will be tested at North Carolina State University’s FREEDM System Center.

DOE funding: $2,287,502; Total Project Value: $2,859,363.

Project Team Members: North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C.; Cree Inc., Durham, N.C.; S&C Electric Co., Franklin, Wisc.; Consolidated Edison Co., New York City.

* On-Ramp Wireless, Inc. (San Diego) will develop and demonstrate a wireless grid sensor and faulted circuit indicator capable of monitoring underground and other hard-to-reach distribution circuit locations.

The goal for this project is to develop and demonstrate tools that will enhance the reliability of distribution grids, improve system performance and maintenance, and enable future remote monitoring applications. A demonstration will be conducted on San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison distribution systems.

DOE funding: $2,135,492; Total Project Value: $2,753,826.

Project Team Members: Schweitzer Engineering Labs, Lake Zurich, Ill. and Pullman, Wash.; San Diego Gas & Electric, San Diego; Southern California Edison, Rosemead, Calif.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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