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DOE staff and National Lab leader gathered to discuss progress made on the GMI portfolio, focusing on the 30 Foundational projects.

On November 30 – December 1, 2016, DOE held the first program review of the Grid Modernization Lab Call, a three-year, up to $220M effort across thirteen national laboratories to address challenges outlined in the Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP). Over these two days, the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) presented an overview of the 88 projects in the Lab Call followed by a detailed review of the thirty foundational projects. The review was the first time DOE staff working on the Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI) and GMLC all convened together to reflect on the portfolio and individual project challenges, accomplishments, and capacity for impact on the overall grid system.

The program review started with the plenary, which was kicked off by Dr. Lynn Orr, the former Under Secretary of Science and Energy, followed by an overview of the six technical pillars presented by each technical lead. The opening event was well received by DOE Leadership.  After the plenary, one lead provided the following feedback. “The event was well organized and engaging.  Leadership from the national labs set an agenda for an efficiently coordinated, orchestrated engagement addressing high value opportunities throughout our nation’s electric system.  It was reassuring to see the scope of work framed in a rigorously tracked set of scheduled deliverables.”

After the plenary, thirty foundational projects of the Lab Call were presented and reviewed.  While each project was unique in contribution towards grid modernization, the importance of evaluating the projects as a portfolio was readily apparent during the review. Some highlights include the following:

Core Activities: Projects like Grid Architecture, Interoperability, and Sensing and Measurement Strategy are developing fundamental approaches that need to be used by all program offices in order for our grid modernization efforts to be successful. To ensure the program offices and the laboratory complex have the same vision, the principle investigators will be hosting webinars to share the latest information about these projects.

  • Project Synergies: During the program review, connections between several projects became readily apparent. During the program review, connections between several projects became readily apparent. For example,
  • Design and Planning Tools: Charlton Clark is holistically managing three projects within the Grid Modernization Lab Call: the North American Renewable Integration Study, the Development and Deployment of Multi-Scale Production Cost Models, and the Midwest Interconnection Seams Study.
  • System Operations: Eric Lightner is using one technical resource committee to provide guidance across a range of foundational and program specific projects in Advanced Distribution Management Systems to create a coherent portfolio of projects.

Regional Demonstrations: In less than a year, significant progress was already demonstrated in  some of the regional partnerships with external stakeholders who are already focused on grid modernization: 

  • In the project in New Orleans (1.3.11), infrastructure modeling and analysis were conducted to measure the hurricane impacts to the grid: revealing areas most sensitive to impact, migration paths of citizens during a storm, and critical areas, like hospitals and dialysis centers that should be the first part of the city’s resilience improvement focus.
  • In the regional partnership in Washington State (1.3.99), transactive control technology was implemented to control and coordinate building loads (HVAC, hot water heaters, energy storage) across the state on three different campuses.  The result of large-scale transactive controls showed energy savings to the customer and intelligent load control which reduced peak load to the grid system.


"This was the first time that the Department of Energy conducted a full review of all of the GMLC's foundational projects," said Michael Pesin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Advanced Grid Research and Development Division in the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. "Each technology office involved with grid modernization was able to provide domain expertise feedback. I believe the exchange of ideas and perspectives offered significant benefits to the projects. I was particularly interested in the demonstration projects which are working with states and private industry to solve the real challenges facing institutions today."

While most of the projects have made progress, a number of key projects have critical next steps that are crucial to the future success of the grid modernization.   All of the projects will be reviewed by a group of peers in mid-April in the first Grid Modernization Peer Review on April 18-21st in Arlington, VA.