Pecan Street to study microgrids, VPP, DER in Puerto Rico using residential energy data

puerto rico
Street in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Image by AndPon from Pixabay

Yesterday, Pecan Street announced that it received a $100,000 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to investigate how high-resolution residential energy data can inform the design and management of microgrids in Puerto Rico and enable the development of policies and economic structures for grid services from Behind-the-Meter (BTM) assets. This research will contribute to efforts to increase the resilience of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure in the face of increasing threat from natural disasters caused by climate change, said Pecan Street in a statement.

The Pecan Street team was in Puerto Rico last week with University of Puerto Rico researchers, community organizations, and local electricians to plan for the installations and deployment of the research network. Once deployed, the network will expand the diversity of data available via Pecan Street’s data hub, Dataport, for researchers working on microgrids, Virtual Power Plants (VPPs), and Distributed Energy Resources (DER) control platforms.

“We are thrilled to partner with the University of Puerto Rico to expand and diversify our data collection efforts to Puerto Rico and advance cleantech and resilience research that will benefit island communities around the globe,” said Pecan Street CEO Suzanne Russo.

With researchers at The University of Puerto Rico — Mayagà¼ez’s Sustainable Energy Center (SEC), Pecan Street will develop a research network in Puerto Rico that will consist primarily of low to moderate income homes. The research network will provide data for Puerto Rico’s grid modernization and clean energy transition and to researchers around the world investigating and developing clean energy solutions for island nations and areas prone to natural disasters.

“Puerto Rico’s energy system faces the dual crises of rebuilding from natural disasters and addressing the fact that Puerto Ricans pay the highest electricity rates in the U.S.,” said project partner Fabio Andrade Rengifo, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Puerto Rico. “The data collection and research that will result from this work will inform the deployment of microgrids that will serve as critical infrastructure, increase resiliency, and alleviate dependence on expensive imported fossil fuels.” 

Pecan Street will outfit homes across Puerto Rico with eGauge home energy monitoring sensors that collect high fidelity energy consumption and generation data every second. Once anonymized, these data will be available to the government of Puerto Rico and the hundreds of university researchers that use Pecans Street’s Dataport website to conduct innovative cleantech research around the world, said the company. 

The Puerto Rico network expansion is one of the first projects of Pecan Street’s Center for Race, Energy & Climate Justice, launched in May 2021. The center will focus its first-year research on establishing a framework for developing equitable energy policies, identifying research gaps in racial justice and equitable policy design, and expanding Pecan Street’s research network within communities of color. Learn more about Pecan Street’s Center for Race, Energy & Climate Justice and how your organization can participate in our efforts on our website.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is supporting Pecan Street’s network expansion through this project. The foundation has also supported Pecan Street’s network expansion into New York, California, and Michigan.

“Pecan Street’s participant network expansion and energy data collection projects are critically important, as clearly demonstrated by the value its research has created over the past decade,” said Dr. Evan Michelson, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “We are particularly excited to see Pecan Street’s efforts to collect data from increasingly diverse communities that will provide a more representative view of residential energy use across the country.”

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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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