Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tech Works on Electric Grid Efficiency

Dominion Virginia Power is working with Virginia Tech to create technology technology that will improve the electric grid’s efficiency and reliability. Known as “synchrophasors,” it provides dynamic real-time information about conditions on the transmission grid. The work is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy.

“If you characterize the current state of technology for monitoring the power system as an X-ray image, synchrophasor technology will provide MRI-quality data,” says Arun Phadke, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

“Dominion’s system is a unique and good proving ground for application of these techniques.” Phadke’s work with synchrophasor technology, which provides precise, real-time data on transmission system conditions, began nearly 27 years ago. He invented the key building block of this technology -- the phasor measurement unit -- and credits the 2003 blackout of the northeast United States for initiating the emergence of this technology.

Phadke joined Virginia Tech’s Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1982 and held the American Electric Power professorship.

“A smarter, more efficient and reliable electric grid means better service for customers, benefits for the environment and lower costs in the long run,” says Dominion Virginia Power Chief Executive Officer Paul Koonce. “What is particularly appealing about this technology is that it can be applied to our existing transmission network, not just new projects.”

The new technology provides grid operators with the ability to better foresee, prevent and manage potential overloads on the grid, and route power more efficiently. This enables maximum efficiency and reliability for Dominion’s transmission grid. As part of a larger project submitted by PJM and 12 member transmission owners, Dominion will also receive federal stimulus funds to help put these efforts to practical use and install the new systems as this tailored research and development is completed in the laboratories.

(From press release.)

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