T&D World Magazine

SCE to Launch Irvine Smart Grid Demonstration Project

Smart grid technologies are going online across some California neighborhoods as Southern California Edison (SCE) demonstrates smart grid solutions in the real world. From automation and communications in the substation and across power lines to smart meters, smart appliances, rooftop solar and plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) in homes, GE is working with SCE to put the smart grid to work by upgrading and modernizing the energy infrastructure.

Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the demonstration project will be launched on June 30, 2013. The demonstration project will include electric-distribution infrastructure, substations, residential homes, cyber security networks, battery energy storage systems and EV charging stations at the University of California, Irvine, and other competitor-supplied products that positively affect the reliability of a modernized grid.

“We’re moving the smart grid discussion from engineering and concepts on the drawing boards to our customers,” said Doug Kim, director of Advanced Technology, Southern California Edison. “Consumers who have been hearing about a smarter electric grid will now experience it first hand. With increased insight, more options and greater control over their energy usage, consumers in this demonstration project will help us engineer a better energy future.”

The changes will be apparent to consumers at points of energy use, with the most significant grid upgrades taking place behind the scenes. This demonstration project will help SCE, GE and other participants fine-tune the software, communications, automation, hardware and network management tools that will make an advanced energy infrastructure possible.

“While the smart grid has received a lot of attention over the past few years, GE’s engineers have actually been at work making a smarter grid for decades,” said Mike Carlson, general manager—software solutions for GE’s Digital Energy business. “This project will build the model for technologies, organizational structure, employee training and cost/benefit metrics to modernize our power grid nationwide.”

The project will validate the interoperability of new technologies to improve the efficiency, reliability and sustainability of grid assets. It will help show how utilities, solution providers, regulators and consumers can work together on vital energy initiatives, including:

  • Enabling and encouraging energy consumption shift to off-peak hours.
  • Seamlessly integrating renewable energy sources across the grid.
  • Determining cost-effective energy storage solutions to incorporate new renewable sources, which meet the reliability standards of electric service providers.
  • Reducing energy’s environmental impact by decreasing waste, increasing efficiency and adding cleaner generating options to enhance safe, reliable and affordable electric service to business and residential users.
  • Using advanced communications and automation to more closely match generation to usage, thereby reducing waste and cost.

About the Technologies

The demonstration project’s technologies will focus on four main areas.

  • Energy smart customer devices such as smart appliances, home-scale energy storage and photovoltaic solar systems that can achieve Zero Net Energy homes and optimize EV charging.
  • Year 2020 distribution system including distribution automation with looped circuit topology, advanced voltage/VAR control, advanced distribution equipment, smart metering, utility-scale storage and renewable distributed generation.
  • Interoperability and cyber security demonstration of end-to-end management of a complex high-performance telecommunication system linking field data to SCE’s back office, field networks and energy-smart home devices, such as appliances and lighting.
  • Workforce of the future including developing training programs to support the implementation of new technology in the field.

Other specific aspects of the project include: distribution circuit constraint management, enhanced circuit efficiency and power quality, self-healing circuits and deep-grid situational awareness.

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