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Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project

The Department of Energy has selected a Pacific Northwest team, including BPA, to conduct a regional smart grid demonstration project designed to expand upon existing electric infrastructure and test new smart grid technology with up to 60,000 customers in five states.

Smart grid technology includes a wide range of products from appliances in homes to sensors on transmission lines and upgrades to substations. The integrated nature of the smart grid increases communication and information flow, so smart grid can monitor activities in real time, exchange data about energy supply and demand while modifying power use during times of high load requirements. Smart grid can effectively identify, use and transmit existing load thereby lowering the need for hydro system capacity.

The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project was one of 16 smart grid demonstration awards totaling $435 million announced by the Department of Energy on Nov. 24, 2009. The team combines energy providers, utilities, vendors and research organizations.

Total estimated cost for the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration is $178 million. DOE will provide half the funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The project's participants, primarily utilities and industry partners including BPA, will provide the remaining funds.

The Northwest study will involve more than 60,000 metered customers in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. Using smart grid technologies, the study will test new combinations of devices, software and advanced analytical tools that enhance the power grid's reliability and performance.

At its peak, the project could create about 1,500 total jobs in manufacturing, installation and operating smart grid equipment, telecommunications networks, software and controls in the five states.

The project team will install equipment and technology in 2010 and 2011. Then, for the next two to three years, project leaders will gather data on smart grid performance from 15 test sites that represent the region's diverse terrain, weather and demographics.

The project will involve more than 112 megawatts of power, enough to serve 86,000 households.

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