In 2010, the Battelle Memorial Institute, 11 electric utilities across five states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming), six technology partners, two universities and BPA began testing smart grid technologies and approaches as part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project –
the largest smart grid project of its kind in the nation with participation from 60,000 electric customer meters. The $178 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, BPA’s Technology Innovation Office
, and public and private participants, emerged out of previous collaborations between BPA and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on the Olympic Peninsula’s GridWise Project, a year-long research project that explored price-responsive household technology, dynamic electricity pricing and consumer behavior.
The project supported the evaluation of 55 different technologies and used an innovative transactive control concept to deploy distribution level and household technologies. Via an interactive, market-based signal, the project increased energy consumption by project participants when wind energy was abundant, typically at night, and decreased their energy use during peak hours when energy prices were most expensive.
At the end of the five-year demonstration, which wrapped up in 2015, the project issued an 840-page technology performance report
and a 32-page summary.
The report concludes that smart meters, automated control of power distribution and other intelligent energy technologies can improve energy efficiency and possibly reduce power costs. However, more research and development are needed to support utility-led smart grid deployment.
“The demo project has laid the groundwork for a more reliable, efficient and sustainable power grid in the Northwest,” says Terry Oliver, BPA’s chief technology innovation officer. “We now have more insight into smart-grid technologies that could provide value to the region.”