Oregon to house largest smart grid testbed in the US


US utility Portland General Electric has plans to develop the nation’s largest smart grid test bed.

In the event the proposal is filed and approved, the two-and-a-half-year project will increase partnerships between the utility and consumers to decarbonise the grid.

The energy provider will accelerate the development of distributed energy resources include consumer onsite solar generators and battery storage systems, smart thermostats, water heaters and EV chargers.

The test bed will intensify grid integration with smart grid technologies, improve consumer services, energy efficiency and reduce the utility’s operational costs and carbon emissions.

Portland General Electric will automate the energy management of consumer home appliances to line up with grid load status. For instance, home devices will be instructed to switch off or reduce energy consumption when demand on the grid is very high or to integrate onsite generated and stored energy into the grid for reliability.

The utility aims to achieve at least 66% participation by eligible customers, above the nation’s average uptake of demand-response programmes, which is less than 7%.

Portland General Electric is expecting to register 20,000 customers under the pilot in three Oregon cities: Hillsboro, Portland and Milwaukie.

Some advanced communications capabilities and distribution system upgrades will be implemented to make the pilot a reality.

For instance, three feeders and substations will be equipped with other smart grid technologies such as new remote controls to enhance system reliability and resilience against cyber attacks.

Portland General is developing the pilot with assistance from the Rocky Mountain Institute, Oregon energy regulators and experts from the public and private sectors.

“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, Inc. “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.”

“Given the recent UN report, the urgency of rolling out cutting-edge technology that aims for a carbon-free near-future is critical. Milwaukie looks forward to exploring how this technology not only moves us toward our goal of being a net zero city by 2040, but creates resiliency in the face of more and more violent storms. We are thrilled with the visionary attitude that our partner PGE has embraced.” — Mark Gamba, mayor of Milwaukie