Avista Utilities will energize a microgrid in Spokane, Washington's University District, by March 2021, that will allow buildings to share energy, minimize impacts on the power grid, and create a local energy market.
The project, known as a micro-transactive grid (MTG), will allow distributed energy resources (DERs) to be traded from one building to another as needs shift, forming what Avista is calling a shared energy economy. This shared flow of power will allow resources such as solar, battery storage, and individual buildings' energy management systems to supply energy more efficiently to Avista's customers, while making the local distribution grid more reliable, resilient, and flexible.
As the utility owner's engineer on the project, POWER Engineers, Inc. is providing overall design, functionality, and construction planning for the components necessary for an MTG. POWER's team also developed a detailed roadmap to make sure all the parts of the MTG work together successfully.
The project is funded by a matching grant from the Washington Department of Commerce Clean Energy Fund. In addition to POWER, Avista is partnering with Washington State University, builder McKinstry Co., Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, technology companies Spirae and Itron, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
"We are excited and honored to be working alongside Avista and industry-leading technology providers to create the University District MTG project. The lessons learned here will provide the foundation for a new grid economy and increase the adoption of DERs," said Greg Clark, POWER project manager.
The MTG will provide power during outages and regulate power flow while the microgrid is connected to the distribution grid. Avista plans to use the MTG as a pilot in order to prove whether investment in microgrids can benefit the utility as well as the end-user.
"With the deployment of DERs on our power system, we are able to envision new products and services between our customers and the utility. These resources deployed in our customer neighborhoods invite customers to participate in the energy ecosystem at a much deeper level than ever before. As part of this project, Avista is evaluating how to create an opportunity for both the customer and the utility to benefit," said Avista Chief Research and Development Engineer John Gibson.
"We believe that technology innovations like the MTG will help Avista achieve our clean energy goals to serve our customers with carbon-free electricity by the end of 2045 and carbon-neutral electricity by the end of 2027," said Avista Senior Vice President of Energy Delivery Heather Rosentrater. "The MTG is the latest example of Avista's rich history of innovation that spans more than 135 years. Avista is always seeking out new ideas that can propel our energy industry forward as we reimagine our future and what it can bring."