Office of Electricity

Dynamic Partners are Essential for R&D Success

January 23, 2018

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The Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) has a unique view of the entire energy system, studying the health of the electric grid that connects generation to consumption. Our mission is to safeguard the nation’s security and prosperity by supporting a resilient system through transformative science and grid technology solutions. Advancement in electricity technology provides a pathway towards American energy independence and domestic job growth. We achieve these goals through long-term, trusted partnerships with industry and the academic research community to take the lead to create real impact in the marketplace.

One of the technologies we support to advance our mission is the synchrophasor network on the transmission system that equips grid operators with vastly new insights into the real-time status of the bulk power system. This emerging field of research leverages high-quality data that could ultimately lead to fundamental changes in how utility grid control systems operate, with the potential to provide breakthroughs in reliability and efficiency. However, these advancements are only possible with the shared vision and dedication of the leading organizations that will ultimately make use of these new tools.

As with many early-stage research initiatives, synchrophasors are bringing together a new set of partners that must forge a path forward to identify and solve barriers to safely and effectively implement new systems into existing operations. In this case, synchrophasors are creating an immense amount of data that needs to be secure and compatible with computer programs to turn that treasure trove of information into actual business value. Additionally, utilities and operators need to be able to incorporate this new data stream into their existing systems that already use highly sophisticated controls to maintain the grid.

My colleagues and I recently had the opportunity to see this integration in action at the headquarters of our long-term utility partner, Dominion Energy. The utility showcased their work in partnership with universities that leveraged the OE-supported openECA, a foundational, open-source platform developed by the Grid Protection Alliance to lower the barriers for software engineers to develop new innovative algorithms to support the grid. Since the system is available for free to everyone and designed to ease interoperability with existing systems, it will be easier for utilities all across the country to develop next-generation software solutions to solve their particular challenges.

Another important partner that we have worked with for years is the North American SynchroPhasor Initiative (NASPI), a community of industry representatives, researchers, and vendors who share lessons learned and discuss advances in synchrophasor technology. OE partners with the Electric Power Research Institute to support NASPI’s work in the deployment and use of these invaluable devices and the development of important applications such as wide-area monitoring, power system planning, and forensic analysis of grid disturbances.

Synchrophasors are a basic element of a more resilient, reliable, flexible, and secure grid with the potential to protect the grid from cyber intrusion and foresee issues before they arise. However, we cannot fulfill that vision without strong leadership of industry and research institutions. Thanks to the support, teamwork, and long-term dedication of our innovative partners, we are just beginning to capture that potential.

To learn more about OE’s pursuit of technologies to improve grid reliability, efficiency, flexibility, functionality, and security, visit the Technology Development section of the OE website.