PGE Plans Smart Grid Test Bed In Support Of ‘Clean Energy Future’

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Oregon’s Portland General Electric (PGE) has announced plans to file a proposal for a Smart Grid Test Bed. 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.

Within its service area, PGE is building and testing three smart grids that will enable more than 20,000 customers to take advantage of special demand-response signals and incentives for using smart-home technologies – in turn, giving them greater energy efficiency opportunities and increased control over their energy use and carbon footprint. The utility says the entire service area will benefit as the company integrates 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 in to our long history of industry leadership to get there,” says Maria Pope, PGE’s 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 aims to make the project a “seamless experience” for customers by helping them automate their smart devices, such as thermostats, water heaters, and 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 such as rooftop solar; flexible resources such as batteries, thermostats and water heaters; and electric vehicle charging. The two-and-a-half-year project aims to achieve at least 66% participation by eligible customers.

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. The project is being steered by an advisory committee of local and national subject-matter experts from the public and private sectors.

“Partnership and collaboration with Portland General Electric is a critical part of our efforts to combat climate change and to make our electricity grid and neighborhoods more resilient, livable and efficient,” comments Ted Wheeler, mayor of Portland. “The City of Portland is excited to learn about smart grid implementation alongside PGE in this important pilot program.”

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