Seattle, October 24, 2012 — A project designed to make the region's and nation's electric grid more reliable and efficient will be showcased during an event at the University of Washington where students will be able to view how they are using energy in real time.
The project is one of 11 projects across five Northwest states that comprise the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, a public/private demonstration launched in February 2010.
Sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and co-funded by the participating utilities, the demo is beginning a two-year period of collecting energy use data.
The 11 participating utilities will evaluate the benefits of smart grid technologies locally — in their respective cities — and at the regional level. The project team will look at how a smarter grid can help deliver electricity more efficiently to avoid congestion in the transmission system and how more wind power can be used. The project's data collection and analysis efforts are expected to provide an unprecedented view into how smart grid concepts can provide regional benefits while improving consumer choice and reliability locally.
The University of Washington has invested nearly $10 million in the project. Before the project began, the UW had seven meters on campus providing a limited view into the campus' energy use. As Seattle City Light's largest customer, the UW has worked with the utility to install more than 200 smart meters across campus in nearly every building.
The meters give energy users real-time information and analysis on energy usage and will improve the UW's understanding of how much energy they are using and how efficiently they are using it. At new residence halls on campus, students will have real-time access to their energy use data by way of in-room energy management devices. Graduate students also will be able to gather and study this data for use in classroom instruction.
The Battelle-led project team is using the signal to test a variety of smart technologies in different geographies, in different weather, in different situations, to learn the most they can about how the grid can operate most efficiently.
The move to "go-live" with the transactive control signal is the continuation of more than a decade of smart grid research in the Pacific Northwest.
As a primary partner in the project, the Bonneville Power Administration is leading a regional effort to develop a business case for smart grid — to show which major infrastructure and technology investments will provide the best value to Northwest ratepayers in the long run.
The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project was co-funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding through the DOE, and the project's utility and vendor partners.