Dominion working with Virginia Tech on smart grid tech

Richmond, Va., November 10, 2009 – Dominion Virginia Power is working with Virginia Tech to develop and test smart grid technology that will improve grid efficiency and reliability.

This technology, known as “synchrophasors,” does this by providing dynamic real-time information about conditions on the transmission grid.

The research project, funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy, also involves Quanta Technology of Raleigh, N.C.

“A smarter, more efficient and reliable electric grid means better service for customers, benefits for the environment and lower costs in the long run,” said Dominion Virginia Power Chief Executive Officer Paul Koonce. “What is particularly appealing about this technology is that it can be applied to our existing transmission network, not just new projects.”

The new technology provides grid operators with the ability to better foresee, prevent and manage potential overloads on the grid, and route power more efficiently. This enables maximum efficiency and reliability for Dominion’s transmission grid.

“If you characterize the current state of technology for monitoring the power system as an X-ray image, synchrophasor technology will provide MRI-quality data,” said Dr. Arun Phadke, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus. “Dominion’s system is a unique and good proving ground for application of these techniques.”

Dr. Phadke’s work with synchrophasor technology, which provides precise, real-time data on transmission system conditions, began nearly 27 years ago. He invented the key building block of this technology – the phasor measurement unit – and credits the 2003 blackout of the northeast U.S. for initiating the emergence of this technology.

As part of a larger project submitted by PJM and 12 member transmission owners, Dominion will also receive federal stimulus funds to help put these efforts to practical use and install the new systems as this tailored research and development is completed in the laboratories.

“I’m thrilled to see this technology moving from the lab to the grid,” says Dr. R. Matthew Gardner, Dominion’s lead engineer on the project. “For our system operators, it’s the ‘Wizard of Oz’ moment when the world goes from shades of gray to full, living color.”

Dominion has a portfolio of more than 27,500 MW of generation and 6,000 miles of electric transmission lines.

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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

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