PULLMAN — Earlier this week, President Barack Obama announced $3.4 billion in grants to improve the efficiency of the electric power grid through Smart Grid technology. A group of WSU researchers in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science are taking a leading role in developing new communication and control paradigms that will make the smart electric power grid a reality.

The researchers, including power engineering professors Anjan Bose and Mani Venkatsubramanian and computer science professors David Bakken and Carl Hauser, have been closely collaborating for more than a decade in the area of smart grid technologies. The group’s research aims to exploit computation and communication to control power grid operations for greater reliability, security and efficiency.

Some of their research projects include the following:

• WSU is working with Avista Utilities and Snohomish County PUD on two projects that were funded out of this week’s $3.4 billion smart grid initiative. The projects will mean improvements to electric power services, such as the implementation of a distribution management system, a communication network to reduce losses, automatic restoration of service to customers during outages, digital telecommunications, substation automation, and a more robust infrastructure for distribution.

• Funded by the Department of Energy (DoE), a $2 million project is developing a real-time simulation platform that integrates Bakken and Hauser’s high-speed communication system called GridStat with Bose and Venkatasubramanian’s monitoring and control algorithms. The simulation platform will operate at the scale of the entire western US power grid, providing unique insights into the capabilities of the new algorithms and their communication requirements. “WSU’s work developing these power grid updates is essential to increasing our state’s access to affordable and environmentally-friendly forms of energy,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington.

• WSU is a major partner with the University of Illinois, University of California, Davis, and Dartmouth College in the new, five year, $18.8 million Trusted Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) project funded by DoE with contributions from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. WSU research in this project is intended to create a secure, real-time communication infrastructure for the power grid, based on GridStat, and to create demonstration projects with industry. The new DoE project will continue the fundamental research into communication technologies for the power gird while also providing support to help TCIPG technologies transition into use in the power industry. More than $2M of funding is expected at WSU over the five year duration of this project.

“These new grants are a great example of how our researchers are directly addressing some of the most critical challenges that our country is facing in the area of energy,’’ said Candis Claiborn, dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture. “These researchers are directly helping to make the electric power grid on which we all depend more reliable, efficient, and able to meet our future power needs.’’