PULLMAN – A group of WSU researchers will be working with Avista on a demonstration project that hopes to make the city of Pullman the region’s first smart grid community. The Pullman project is part of a Department of Energy regional smart grid demonstration project throughout the Northwest that is designed to expand upon existing electric infrastructure and test new smart grid technology.
 
Using smart grid technologies, the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, announced by DOE today (http://www.energy.gov/news2009/8305.htm) will test new combinations of devices, software and advanced analytical tools that enhance the power grid’s reliability and performance. The total estimated cost for the project is $178 million with DOE providing half the funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project’s participants, primarily utilities and industry team members will provide the remaining funds.
 
The $38 million Pullman project involves automation of many parts of the electric distribution system using advanced metering technology, enhanced communication, and other elements of the smart grid. The project is intended to show how smart grid technology can enhance the safety, reliability, and efficiency of energy delivery on a regional and national level.
 

Bose

As part of the project, WSU along with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories are set to serve as ‘micro-grids,’ locally-based, electricity producing power grids, says Anjan Bose, Regents Professor in the WSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Serving as a micro-grid, WSU will communicate with Avista to improve electric power efficiency throughout the community.

 
WSU has its own generating plant, which runs on natural gas and diesel fuel. The generating plant is used primarily to produce steam to heat buildings on campus, but it also includes back-up generators which produce electricity. The campus back-up generators are used to provide power to critical facilities and systems in the event a utility power outage occurs. As part of the smart grid project, WSU will be communicating with Avista for the first time to optimize power generation throughout the community, so that the WSU power-producing facilities might be called upon to provide electricity if the Avista power grid should become unstable or over-loaded.WSU will also identify loads which could be temporarily shed in response to Avista signals to assist with stabilizing the power grid. The EECS power engineering researchers and students will be involved in research, development, design, testing, and data analysis of the ‘micro-grid’ system.
 
“The micro-grid provides a local way of controlling electricity production and distribution and should make the whole system more responsive to people’s needs,’’ says Bose. “This is a good demonstration project of one of the ways that we can make the grid smarter.’’
 

Claiborn

“This Smart Grid project allows WSU to take a leading role in addressing our nation’s most critical challenges in energy and the environment,’’ says Candis Claiborn, dean of the College of Engineering and Architecture. “I look forward to a future in which these smart grid innovations being studied here at WSU will lead to cleaner and more efficient energy use for all of us.’’

 
In addition to Bose, other EECS researchers on the project include Mani Venkatasubramanian, Dave Bakken, and Carl Hauser. Terry Ryan, director of WSU’s energy systems operations, has also taken a leading role on the project. In addition to WSU and Avista, other team members on the Pullman project include Schweitzer Engineering, Itron, Hewlett Packard, and Spirae.