Office of Electricity (OE) Accomplishments in 2017

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The Office of Electricity (OE) leads the Department’s efforts to ensure the nation’s critical energy infrastructure is secure and able to recover rapidly from disruptions. Below are some of OE’s accomplishments in 2017 prior to its realignment in May 2018 when cybersecurity for energy delivery systems and emergency response related activities were part of OE.  Information about more recent accomplishments is available HERE.  To learn more about how OE is harnessing innovation for a stronger, more reliable North American energy system and a path forward to energy independence, visit the OE website’s blog and News sections. 

  • New Cyber-Attack Energy Assurance Exercise:  OE co-sponsored Liberty Eclipse, a new regional energy assurance exercise to promote state- and local-level preparedness and resilience for future energy emergencies stemming from a cyber incident.  Approximately 100 participants and over 60 organizations, including Federal, state, and local governments; trade and state associations; National Laboratories; oil and natural gas companies; electric utilities; and communications companies participated in the exercise.

  • Improved Situational Awareness:  OE significantly boosted the capabilities of, and expanded access to, the EAGLE-I situational awareness tool. EAGLE-I is an interactive geographic information system that provides capabilities for monitoring energy infrastructure assets, reporting energy outages, displaying potential threats to energy infrastructure, and coordinating emergency response and recovery.  By the beginning of the 2017 hurricane season, EAGLE-I incorporated visualization of customer impact forecasts and, for the first time, was also available to emergency operations centers and energy emergency assurance coordinators in all 50 states and Washington, DC.  This expanded access helps more local responders facilitate electric sector situational awareness in their regions and accelerate restoration.

  • Streamlined Transmission Permitting:  OE issued a Record of Decision and Presidential Permit for two transmission projects.  The Great Northern Transmission Line is a 224-mile overhead alternating current transmission line that will bring up to 883 megawatts of hydropower from Manitoba Power in Canada to Grand Rapids, Minnesota and deliver wind power generated in North Dakota to Manitoba Power in Canada.  The New England Clean Power Link Transmission Line is a 154-mile underground and underwater direct current transmission line that will bring up to 1000 megawatts of hydropower from Quebec, Canada to southern Vermont. The project has the potential to provide enough reliable, affordable and carbon-free electricity to serve approximately 1 million residential customers in New England.  These transmission lines are examples of the collaborative principles detailed in the Integrated Interagency Pre-Application Process (IIP), the rulemaking process that streamlined permitting and siting by encouraging early engagement with local, state and tribal communities on electric grid transmission projects. As a result, the reviews for both transmission lines were completed in 2.5 years. Large-scale infrastructure projects often take longer to complete. 

  • High Performance Computing Speeds Up Assessment of Grid Security:  With the increasing uncertainties in modern power systems, having a computer-based tool that can quickly evaluate grid security in near real-time online is essential to better understand the operational risks and make timely control decisions to ensure system reliability. Today’s tools, however, are not fast enough to meet the needs of the power industry. Early stage research funded by OE at PNNL produced new algorithms using high performance, parallel computing. The prototype tool, which has shown significant speed improvements, is now available to research facilities using the GridPack software suite. 

  • New Grid-Scale Battery Storage Technology Commercialized:   UniEnergy Technologies (UET) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory received a 2017 Green Chemistry Challenge Award for their development and commercialization of an advanced Vanadium flow battery. Using an ingenious mixed acid electrolyte, OE-funded researchers at PNNL succeeded in cutting the cost of the storage system in half, in doubling its temperature window, and roughly doubling its energy density. Once the system was ready for commercialization, PNNL licensed the technology, receiving a Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Technology Transfer in the process. UET received a license, perfected the manufacturing process, found financial partners and started to commercialize the system.

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