EPB, Oak Ridge Laboratory partner for smart grid technology

Harold DePriest of EPB, Thom Mason of ORNL and Patricia Hoffman of the U.S. Department of Energy

Officials of EPB and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have announced a plan to partner for advanced improvements to the Chattanooga national Smart Grid, according to Chattanoogan.com

Discussion for the final agreement was also attended by U.S. Department of Energy representatives, who were concerned about a number of issues in delivering electric power to homes and businesses.

The event was titled “Future Seek: Where Energy Research Meets Application,” during which a MOU was signed between both companies.

One of the challenges in integrating the grid is the increasing number of “off grid” energy applications, including solar and wind. How energy can be managed with the least negative impact on the climate and environment is another issue, pointed out, Thom Mason, director, ORNL.

Chattanooga’s smart grid is ideally suited to be a live extension of ORNL’s extensive research system. The progressive nature of EPB allows for opportunities to demonstrate ORNL’s emerging technologies in Chattanooga’s real-world environment, added Mason.

He was concerned about cyber security, saying that there are hackers and even nation states who may want to disrupt electrical grids.

Earlier, prior losses to local firms due to loss of power were in the range of $80 million to $100 million per year. The Smart Grid has cut that by 60 percent, noted, Harold DePriest, president, EPB.

Harold DePriest of EPB, Thom Mason of ORNL and Patricia Hoffman of the U.S. Department of Energy
Harold DePriest of EPB, Thom Mason of ORNL and Patricia Hoffman of the U.S. Department of Energy

According to the agreement, Oak Ridge National Laboratory will impart technical expertise in data analytics, control systems, cybersecurity and high-performance computer in the field of smart grid technologies, allowing investment by EPB.

The project is partially funded with $111.5 million, awarded by the Energy Department. EPB has designed an innovative distribution system with improved operations and smart grid technology deployment, offering steady electric service and effective response.

In addition, testing applied science on the fully operational smart grid will provide real-world understanding about the performance and ideal environments for emerging applications. Advanced analytics and data management will help EPB to leverage the data using advanced sensors to improve operations efficiently.

Moreover, researchers will analyze the benefits of advanced controls and micro-grids, which have the potential for distributed generation deployment, storage and renewable systems. The collaborators will adapt high performance modeling and simulation technology for a detailed understanding of the operations.

Additionally, ORNL staff scientists will join the projects as “Engineering Scholars in Residence”, where they will initially conduct a case study about the EPB network, to be used as a road map for other utilities with similar interest.

The organizations will jointly effort for formulating strict protocols to protect EPB customer privacy and data and ensure that future testing of technologies does not negatively interfere with EPB’s customers’ experience.

Sabeena Wahid
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