Smart Energy Use

Grid modernization playbook for public power

It's time to gear up and take to the field for some heavy grid modernization research and development.

The Department of Energy is funding up to $220 million for its national laboratories and partners, including several public power players.

The initiative represents a comprehensive effort from Washington to help shape the future grid.

The strategy — support research and development in advanced storage systems, clean energy integration, standards and test procedures, and a number of other key grid modernization areas.

Public power has a long winning streak when it comes to putting federal funds to effective use in a number of areas including grid modernization.

Region: Southeast

Team: Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Tennessee Valley Authority; South Carolina's Santee Cooper

Plays: EPB is developing a grid sensing and measurement strategy and tackling advanced sensor development and threat detection and response with data analytics. EPB, Santee Cooper and TVA will work in tandem to map the modernized grid. Santee Cooper is also helping on a transformer efficiency project. TVA is slated to participate in several other grid services and valuation projects.

Region: West

Team: Idaho Falls Power, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, and Riverside Public Utilities and Palo Alto Utilities in California

Plays: Idaho Falls Power and UAMPS will work to improve the physical security of the Idaho Falls distribution system through smart reconfiguration and intelligent demand response. Meanwhile, in California, Palo Alto Utilities plans to partner with SunPower to understand the impacts on the distribution system linked to boosting solar penetration. In Riverside, California, the utility is developing an open-source platform for advanced distribution management systems.

Region: Midwest

Team: Ames and Cedar Falls, Iowa

Plays: The city of Ames and Cedar Falls Utilities will collaborate with several IOUs, two grid operators, Iowa State University and ISU's Electric Power Research Center to develop load and distributed generation models.

Region: Northeast

Team: APPA, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Pedernales Electric Cooperative, National Grid, Arizona Public Service Co., Black and Veatch, DOE national labs

Plays: With a strong offense from industry associations, utilities and national labs, APPA will develop tools, identify gaps, and provide technical assistance and training for state regulators and smaller utilities for modernizing the grid and incorporating distributed energy resources.