Portland plans ambitious smartgrid testbed

Portland plans ambitious smartgrid testbed

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Portland General Electric is building and testing three smart grids within its service area that will enable more than 20,000 customers to take advantage of special demand-response signals and incentives for using smart-home technologies, giving them greater energy efficiency opportunities and increased control over their energy use and carbon footprint. This will allow customers to connect home batteries and electrical vehicle chargers to the grid to store excess power, choosing to use the excess power or return it back to the grid. They can also change their energy consumption during high demand times to lower their overall energy costs.

The whole service area of 883,000 customers in 51 cities will benefit as PGE integrates even more renewable energy resources into the grid without compromising safety, security and reliability.

“PGE is committed to delivering a clean energy future, and we’re leaning in to our long history of industry leadership to get there,” said Maria Pope, president and CEO of PGE. “Together with customers we’re making the future a reality with innovative projects like our Smart Grid Test Bed. This first-of-its-kind project will leapfrog over other smart grid efforts, enabling PGE to gain and share learnings that will aid the entire industry.”

“The PGE Smart Grid Test Bed represents a leap forward in the relationship between customers and their energy providers,” said Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and CEO of Grid Policy. “By providing customers with more control over their energy consumption and carbon footprint with the latest in control technology, PGE is on a path to building a model that energy providers everywhere can learn from and replicate.”

The testbed will help users automate their smart devices, such as thermostats, water heaters, electric vehicle chargers and batteries, to work with PGE as it operates the grid. During times when demand for electricity is especially high in the region, customers will be able to decide on an event-by-event basis if they want to participate in reducing their overall energy consumption.

To accomplish this, PGE will leverage advanced communications capabilities and distribution system upgrades in three Oregon cities: Hillsboro, Portland and Milwaukie. Three feeders and substations in these cities will also be equipped with other smart grid technologies such as new remote controls that increase system reliability and enhanced safety and cyber security.

The test bed will accelerate the development of distributed resources, which include customer-hosted renewables like rooftop solar; flexible resources like batteries, thermostats and water heaters; and electric vehicle charging. The project will rely on PGE’s unique ability to partner with customers. The two-and-a-half-year project aims to achieve at least 66 percent participation by eligible customers, an ambitious goal considering typical uptake of demand-response programs nationally is less than 7 percent.

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