Department of Energy

Smart Grid Week: New Project in Oregon Helping Advance the Grid of the Future

June 7, 2013

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Rows of battery racks at Portland General Electric’s Salem Smart Power Center in Salem, Ore. PGE is a participant in the Battelle-led Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, which will use the center’s 5-megawatt energy storage system to test several smart grid technologies and approaches. | Photo courtesy of Portland General Electric.

Rows of battery racks at Portland General Electric’s Salem Smart Power Center in Salem, Ore. PGE is a participant in the Battelle-led Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, which will use the center’s 5-megawatt energy storage system to test several smart grid technologies and approaches. | Photo courtesy of Portland General Electric.

Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Pat Hoffman and U.S. senator Ron Wyden from Oregon listen to Smart Grid Power Manager Kevin Whitener during a tour of PGE’s Smart Power Center in Salem, Oregon. | Photo courtesy of Portland General Electric.

Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability Pat Hoffman and U.S. senator Ron Wyden from Oregon listen to Smart Grid Power Manager Kevin Whitener during a tour of PGE’s Smart Power Center in Salem, Oregon. | Photo courtesy of Portland General Electric.

Research being conducted at an innovative new facility in Salem, Oregon will help move the nation closer to a more reliable and resilient electric grid.

Just last week, Portland General Electric (PGE) unveiled the Salem Power Center -- a 5 megawatt lithium-ion battery energy storage facility. The Salem Power Center is part of a highly reliable, localized power zone called a microgrid that will enable about 500 southeast Salem customers to tap into a power reserve during electricity disruptions such as blackouts. In addition, as part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, PGE will test ideas and technologies that will help inform the nation’s current transition to a modern, 21st century power grid. 

Among the innovative smart grid technologies being tested at the facility is transactive control. Developed by scientists and researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory transactive control can help utilities effectively balance supply and demand for electricity. The technology will allow PGE to store energy when market prices are low and pull from battery storage -- rather than buying power -- when prices are high. Transactive control holds promise as a method to significantly increase the efficiency of grid while reducing operation costs.

Another key research area at Salem Power Center is determining how to better store and integrate variable renewable energy sources like solar and wind into the electrical grid. Salem-based Kettle Brands is connecting its 616-panel rooftop solar installation to the project to help test the best approaches to bringing solar energy into the grid when it’s needed most.

PGE is also implementing a demand-response program with residential and commercial customers -- tasking participants to shift energy usage to “off-peak periods” when energy demands are at their lowest.

Over the next several months, researchers will be collecting and analyzing data from the Salem Power Center. The information and experiences from project participants will support a better understanding of how the benefits of smart grid technology may be realized for the region and our nation.

Learn more about the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project -- an unprecedented Recovery Act-supported effort that is rolling out innovative smart grid technologies for more than 60,000 metered customers across five Pacific Northwest states.

View the press release from PNNL: Power Grid Getting Smarter With Big Battery in Salem