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Utilities take the next step toward smart grid deployment

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Indicated by the several smart grid projects that are appearing across North America, many utilities are moving beyond what is expected and implementing advanced technologies developed specifically for the smart grid.

According to Smart Grid News, projects range from improving electric reliability in Austin, Texas, to critical energy management in remote Alaskan villages.

In Hawaii, the local utility and Honeywell have begun a two-year pilot program to demonstrate how demand response technology can be effective at integrating intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power, to the new grid. Hawaiian Electric will work with commercial and industrial customers to conduct tests of "fast demand response" applications, which reportedly will allow utilities to reduce demand within 10 minutes of notification of a possible discrepancy between supply and demand.

In Washington, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) has conducted a pilot that tests grid flexibility in accommodating various renewables. In the test, BPA partnered with two Pacific Northwest utilities to determine if regular communication between wind power generators and the electric grid would benefit the system and help it respond to fluctuations more effectively.

The media outlet reports Portland General Electric and Snohomish PUD have both agreed to provide twice-an-hour scheduling of wind transmissions through the BPA system - more frequent than the once-an-hour schedule that has been used for a century.

"[Greater frequency of communication] will lower that error between what they're actually producing and what they've scheduled," said Doug Johnson, BPA spokesman, according to Sustainable Business Oregon.

The program will allow BPA to reduce by 23 megawatts the balancing reserves it holds in the event that wind power plants generate less energy than had been planned, and lower 34 megawatts of reserves it has in case the wind plants produce more than expected.

At the recent DistribuTECH conference, SUBNET gave a presentation on how automated wind turbine curtailment greatly benefited California's TID Water & Power. Presented Wojtek Czyz of SUBNET Solutions Inc., Czyz spoke on how TID is required to provide hourly predictions of how much energy will be generated by its wind turbines to help the transmission utility compensate for periods of lower and higher generation.

The presentation discussed how to automate the wind turbine curtailment while balancing the output for optimum efficiency.

Other smart grid breakthroughs include increasing use of smart meters and further improvement to the reliability of the grid.
 

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