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PGE rolls out smart grid testbed in Oregon

Portland General Electric is building a roadmap to a “virtual power plant” that is powered by customer devices and behaviours rather than traditional generation.

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Milwaukie hopes technology will create greater resiliency in the face of violent storms
Milwaukie hopes technology will create greater resiliency in the face of violent storms

US utility company Portland General Electric (PGE) has launched a smart grid testbed to help build a clean energy future.

 

The project aims to accelerate PGE’s clean energy vision through partnering with customers in entirely new ways to decarbonise the grid.

 

Virtual power plant

 

According to PGE, the pilot will enable it to build a roadmap to a “virtual power plant” – one powered by customer devices and behaviours rather than traditional generation – that will help address climate change, empower communities in how they consume energy and create a more resilient power system, all while saving customers money.

 

“We’re using our smart grid testbed to deliver simple, seamless solutions and working with customers to drive carbon out of our system,” said Maria Pope, president and CEO of PGE.

 

“We’re determined to meet our shared climate and equity goals.”

 

PGE’s testbed spans three ‘distinct’ neighbourhoods within its service area in the state of Oregon.

 

Through the testbed, the company is preparing more than 20,000 customers to take advantage of special demand-response signals as well as incentives for using smart-home technologies, giving them greater control over their energy use and carbon footprint.

“Milwaukie looks forward to exploring how this technology not only moves us toward our goal of being a net zero city by 2040, but creates resiliency in the face of more and more violent storms”

PGE said it aims to make this a seamless experience for customers by helping them automate their smart devices, such as thermostats, water heaters, electric vehicle chargers and batteries, to work in concert with PGE as it operates the grid.

 

During times when demand for electricity is especially high in the region, customers will be able to decide on an event-by-event basis if they want to participate in reducing or shifting their energy consumption. Additionally, PGE said the entire region will benefit as it integrates even more renewable energy resources into its power supply without compromising grid safety, security or reliability.

 

Enrolling neighbourhoods

 

Residents in the testbed neighbourhoods in Hillsboro, Portland and Milwaukie have been automatically enrolled into PGE’s peak time rebates, a demand-response programme that rewards customers for shifting their energy use during times when temperatures are particularly hot or cold.

 

Three substations in these cities will also be equipped with other smart grid technologies such as new remote controls that increase system reliability and enhanced safety and cyber-security.

 

“The urgency of rolling out cutting-edge technology that aims for a carbon-free near-future is critical. Milwaukie looks forward to exploring how this technology not only moves us toward our goal of being a net-zero city by 2040, but creates resiliency in the face of more and more violent storms,” added Mark Gamba, mayor of Milwaukie.

 

“We are thrilled with the visionary attitude that our partner PGE has embraced.”

 

The project was conceived and is being overseen by energy regulators in Oregon. To help accelerate the concept, PGE developed the pilot with guidance from the Rocky Mountain Institute, a leading sustainability consultant.

 

The project is being steered by an advisory committee of local and national subject matter experts from the public and private sectors.

 

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