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Texas Uses Phasors to Increase Electricity Reliability

March 31, 2011 - 12:57pm


As any businessperson will tell you, a key to long-term success is the ability to foresee potential problems and limit risk. In the electricity industry this ability can prevent grid events, like unexpected outages or power fluctuations, from turning into much larger problems.

In Texas, the Center for Commercialization of Electric Technology (CCET) is demonstrating a comprehensive approach to managing variability from renewable sources, particularly wind, on the transmission system. As one component of its Smart Grid Demonstration Project, awarded through the Recovery Act, CCET installed 14 monitoring devices to monitor the voltage, current and frequency of electricity within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) transmission grid and to convert the data into a phase vector, or “phasor.”

The monitoring devices, known as phasor measurement units (PMUs), are synchronized to collect and time-stamp data 30 times per second and to continually relay this information to system operators. By evaluating data from around the system, matched by the time-stamps, system operators can produce real-time and evolving snapshots of system health. This data collection and processing capability has made PMUs useful for analyzing grid events. The devices have been installed across several Texas utilities to better manage the grid during a loss of wind-generated power.

The other component of the project will be the installation of several advanced, distribution-level smart grid technologies in a green community outside of Houston, including batteries, home energy management systems, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and home area networks. Overall, CCET hopes the project will illustrate effective solutions for managing unpredictability and promoting reliability on the grid.

You can find information on this and other Smart Grid Demonstration projects by visiting the Department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability at