Pacific Northwest to Host Smart Grid Demo
by Sara Stroud
Sustainable Industries, December 3, 2009
RICHLAND, WASH. -- Fueled by federal stimulus funds, a group of Northwest utilities and technology companies are teaming up on a $178 million smart grid demonstration project.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced in late November that it will provide half the project funding through a $620 million initiative to create 32 demonstration projects nationwide. The regional projects are expected to test smart grid technologies--including smart meters, energy storage and distribution monitoring devices--and serve as models for large-scale smart grid efforts.
Participants, including Portland General Electric, Bonneville Power Administration and Seattle City Light, plan to provide the remaining funds for the project, which will be managed by research, development and lab management firm Battelle, which operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.
Smart grid technology could be especially helpful in the Pacific Northwest as the region looks to increase the integration of wind power, by making a power system nimble enough to address wind power’s intermittent nature, according to BPA.
Among the technology companies participating in the pilot is Seattle-based 3TIER, which provides assessment and forecasting for wind, solar and hydropower energy projects. The company plans to provide wind and solar forecasting for the project. Forecasting for weather-driven renewables--such as wind and solar--is key to smart grid efficiency, as it allows for optimal power integration, 3TIER CEO Kenneth Westrick says.
Participants in the 112-megawatt project are expected to begin rolling out technology and equipment in 2010 and 2011, with plans to gather data from test sites for two to three years. At its peak, Battelle says the project could create 1,500 jobs across a five-state area.
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