California Power Grid Strained By Heat Wave

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to a strong and secure power grid, the Energy Department today announced more than $10 million for projects that will improve the reliability and resiliency of the U.S. electric grid and facilitate quick and effective response to grid conditions. This investment which includes six projects across five states- California, Hawaii, Missouri, North Carolina and Washington – will help further the deployment of   advanced software that works with synchrophasor technology to better detect quickly-changing grid conditions and improve day-to-day grid reliability.

“Through advanced sensors and monitoring devices, U.S. utilities now have unprecedented insight into the power grid – helping industry make decisions that may prevent power outages before they happen and adeptly respond to changing grid conditions without disruption,” said Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary for the Energy Department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. “By partnering with utilities and software developers, the Energy Department can help the U.S. electric industry maintain more reliable and resilient power systems.”

In the United States, advanced sensors and monitoring devices are giving utilities unprecedented visibility to see what is happening throughout the grid. For example, synchrophasors can measure the instantaneous voltage, current and frequency at specific locations on the grid – giving utilities the ability to foresee and respond to changing grid conditions, make decisions that prevent power outages and speed up restoration. Synchrophasor technology provides time-stamped data 30 times per second – about 100 times faster than conventional technology.

With the support of the Recovery Act, the Energy Department worked with utilities to deploy more synchrophasors throughout the United States. In 2009, there were approximately 200 synchrophasors connected to the grid. Today, thanks in part to these Recovery Act investments, there are about 1,700.

By creating software that analyzes and visualizes the complex data captured by synchrophasors, these projects announced today will help industry better leverage this new technology and maintain a strong and reliable power grid. The six awards announced today, subject to final negotiation, include:

  • Pacific Gas & Electric ($2.9 million DOE investment; $3.9 million recipient cost-share): Based in San Francisco, Pacific Gas & Electric will leverage its existing synchrophasor software applications to further improve data quality validation and security, strengthen system-wide indicators, speed system restoration and advance its ability to conduct post-event analysis.
  • Quanta Technology ($998,920 DOE investment; $1 million recipient cost-share): Headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., Quanta Technology will work with the New York Power Authority to develop and test a new software application that uses data from synchrophasors and other sensors simultaneously to provide fast, reliable and detailed visibility into grid conditions throughout the New York Power Authority area.
  • Electric Power Group ($908,613 DOE investment; $931,788 recipient cost-share):  Based in Pasadena, Calif., Electric Power Group will expand grid operator training by developing additional simulator software to teach operators how to use synchrophasor data and incorporate these resources and tools into broader grid operations.  The new software module will be demonstrated and tested by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Southern California Edison.
  • Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company ($1.4 DOE investment; $1.5 million recipient cost-share): Located in Kansas City, Mo., Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company will develop software that uses synchrophasor data to monitor and analyze grid conditions in real-time. Burns & McDonnell Engineering will also work with Southern Company to test the software at one of its control centers.
  • Hawaiian Electric Company ($500,000 DOE investment; $500,000 recipient cost-share): Based in Honolulu, Hawaiian Electric Company will, for the first time, incorporate synchrophasor data into its transmission and distribution modeling and system-wide data analysis efforts. The project will also evaluate new visualization techniques that use synchrophasor data to inform grid modernization activities.
  • Peak Reliability ($3.9 million DOE investment; $4.8 million recipient cost-share): Headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., Peak Reliability serves as the reliability coordinator in 14 western U.S. states, British Columbia, and the northern portion of Baja California, Mexico. Through this project, Peak will use synchrophasors to develop automated controls and improve grid condition data delivery and quality.

Find more information about how the Energy Department is working to advance a modern and secure energy infrastructure.