Portland General Electric has announced plans to file a proposal for a Smart Grid Test Bed that will integrate smart grid technology on a scale never before attempted in the United States. Slated to begin next year, the project aims to accelerate PGE’s vision for a clean energy future through partnering with customers to decarbonize the grid.
PGE is building and testing three smart grids within its service area that will enable more than 20,000 customers to take advantage of special demand-response signals and incentives for using smart-home technologies, giving them greater energy efficiency opportunities and increased control over their energy use and carbon footprint.
The entire service area will benefit as PGE integrates even more renewable energy resources into its power supply without compromising grid safety, security and reliability.
“PGE is committed to delivering a clean energy future, and we’re leaning into our long history of industry leadership to get there,” said Maria Pope, PGE president, and CEO. “Together with customers, we’re making the future a reality with innovative projects like our Smart Grid Test Bed. This first-of-its-kind project will leapfrog over other smart grid efforts, enabling PGE to gain and share learnings that will aid the entire industry.”
PGE will make this a seamless experience for customers by helping them automate their smart devices, such as thermostats, water heaters, electric vehicle chargers, and batteries, to work in concert with PGE as it operates the grid.
During times when demand for electricity is especially high in the region, customers will be able to decide on an event-by-event basis if they want to participate in reducing their overall energy consumption.
To accomplish this, PGE will leverage advanced communications capabilities and distribution system upgrades in three Oregon cities: Hillsboro, Portland, and Milwaukie.
Three feeders and substations in these cities will also be equipped with other smart grid technologies such as new remote controls that increase system reliability and enhanced safety and cyber security.
The test bed will accelerate the development of distributed resources, which include customer-hosted renewables like rooftop solar; flexible resources like batteries, thermostats and water heaters; and electric vehicle charging.
The project will rely on PGE’s unique ability to partner with customers. The two-and-a-half-year project aims to achieve at least 66% participation by eligible customers, an ambitious goal considering typical uptake of demand-response programs nationally is less than 7%.
“Given the recent UN report, the urgency of rolling out cutting-edge technology that aims for a carbon-free near-future is critical,” said Mark Gamba, Mayor of Milwaukie. “Milwaukie looks forward to exploring how this technology not only moves us toward our goal of being a net zero city by 2040, but creates resiliency in the face of more and more violent storms. We are thrilled with the visionary attitude that our partner PGE has embraced.”
The project was conceived and is being overseen by energy regulators in Oregon. To accelerate the concept, PGE developed the pilot with guidance from the Rocky Mountain Institute, one of the nation’s top sustainability consultants.
The project is being steered by an advisory committee of local and national subject matter experts from the public and private sectors.
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