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Grid 2050

Shaping system transformation.

Fortnightly Magazine - August 2011

electric power status at monitor locations 30 to 60 times a second. By collecting and sharing this information in real-time, the condition of the entire grid can be observed, and operations can be coordinated to ensure reliability is maintained.

While wide-area coordination has occurred in the past, it has primarily been within limits established by off-line studies, lengthy analyses (typical focusing on worst-case scenarios), and embodied in regional agreements. The advent of wide-area, real-time monitoring as enabled by NASPI will dramatically increase the coordinative potential, perhaps even creating the opportunity for near-real-time operation and control of major grid functions throughout an entire interconnect. At a minimum, it will enable more coordinated control, sharing of reliability assets, reduction of aggregate reserve requirements, and better utilization of both existing grid assets, as well as optimized deployment of new assets.

Research is underway to craft new tools that leverage phasor data to improve system control and ultimately test the value of real-time control. Research in the Western Interconnect is comparing the benefits of adaptive islanding based upon real-time phasor data to determine its performance relative to traditional, predefined protection schemes. And utilities in the U.S. and China are designing real-time controls for select portions of their systems to improve resilience and reliability.

These advances in situational awareness and real-time monitoring and control of system dynamics offer the promise to improve both system reliability and asset utilization across the transmission system. Many major corridors today are rated on a seasonal basis, often leaving significant amounts of assets underutilized for significant periods of time. Ultimately, real-time high-resolution monitoring and operations enabled with phasor technology should provide more precise asset utilization, increased potential for renewable integration, improved reliability and high resilience.

Distribution Leverage

Smart grid technologies at the distribution system level are focused on achieving better electrical service at lower cost through the use of ubiquitous, distributed communications and controls. Smart grid is envisioned as a means to enable loads (customers) to be full participants in delivery of electric service. Distribution system automation is also considered an important element of a smart grid.

These concepts, when linked to smart meters and premise gateways, are enabling a range of integrated, interactive load-control efforts that have the potential to enhance consumer engagement in energy options and add demand to the tool kit we use to manage the grid of the future. One previous test bed project on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state employed a transactive-control approach to smart grid implementation at the consumer level. For this project, they observed peak load reductions of approximately 15 percent and successfully utilized “Grid Friendly” appliances for under-frequency load shedding, when needed. Aspects of this previous project will be broadened and more comprehensively tested during one of the new ARRA-funded smart grid demonstration projects, the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration, with 11 utilities and 60,000 customers participating. In total, 14 regional smart grid demos are underway around the country, providing an emerging resource for understanding the benefits of a range of smart grid concepts at the distribution level.

The capacity for load to