Working in the WSU smart grid lab are electrical engineering graduate students
Griet Devriese, left, Shreya Kodnadu and Saugata S. Biswas.
 
 
PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University’s Smart Grid Demonstration and Research Investigation Lab (SGDRIL) is set to become a national testing lab for smart grid technology.
 
The university and the IEEE Conformity Assessment Program (ICAP) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop and implement a smart grid test program. ICAP is a professional organization that sets national standards in telecommunications, power systems and information technology.
 
“By becoming a certified testing lab for the latest technology for the smart grid, WSU is continuing its long history of leadership in the area of power engineering,’’ said Behrooz Shirazi, Huie-Rogers chair, professor and director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “We look forward to continuing this important work as we develop ideas, build and test the smart electric power grid of the future.’’
 
Helping power operators track status
 
WSU’s lab will test phasor measurement units (PMUs). Utilities increasingly are using PMUs for situational awareness of the power grid. The PMUs measure electrical signals on the power grid and are synchronized to a GPS time source. They help utilities understand their stability limit and record systemwide disturbances.
 
“The smart grid is evolving, and the standards (for equipment) are being updated,’’ said Anurag Srivastava, assistant professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Having everyone on the same standards is important, so that the different units and utilities can talk to each other. This testing will provide the validation and assurance that these important measurements are accurate.’’
 
Several vendors produce PMUs, which have improved in recent years. Similar to the way in which digital cameras have improved to provide higher resolution and highly pixelated images, PMUs also provide an increasingly higher resolution picture of what’s occurring for power operators.
 
Hundreds of PMUs are installed at substations in the U.S., but that number is expected to increase dramatically. The units generally cost thousands of dollars. Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, based in Pullman, is one of the leading manufacturers of PMUs.
 
Teaching locally; improving standards worldwide
WSU’s SGDRIL will be one of only a few independent testing labs in the U.S. The MoU also calls for WSU and IEEE to work together to improve standards conformity around the world.
 
Researchers in the lab will test the units to make sure they meet IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) standards. An improved standard for the units is expected in 2012. The lab will measure and certify the units for accuracy.
 
Students will have the opportunity to work in the lab to become familiar with the units and with IEEE standards.