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Off-grid systems are traditionally used in remote places where the utility grid does not exist or would require exorbitant connection fees. People choose this system type for several reasons such as the appeal of an independent lifestyle, the overall reliability off-grid systems provide, or the cost of bringing utility lines to such a remote location costs more than a home solar power system. Don’t take this as having to sacrifice all the finer electrical luxuries of life but see it more as a move towards greater electric conscientiousness. This electricity infrastructure operations center is designed for research to help guard against threats ranging from natural disasters to international attack, and to make the grid more flexible, reliable and efficient.
The complex and piecemeal grid system that delivers electricity across the nation is largely a 20th century structure, she said, and it won’t meet many of the demands or the opportunities of the 21st century.
Inside the new building is an electricity infrastructure operations center designed for research to help guard against those threats and make the grid more flexible, reliable and efficient. The center streams live grid data into two control rooms, allowing software and related tools to be tested to see how they perform without risking disruption of electricity delivery on the grid. Operations can be mimicked to see the results of slight changes to the grid, such as adding more wind power, from the source of production through transmission to delivery to individual buildings. The data-filled, electronic screens that line the front walls of the control rooms are cool, said engineer Karen Studarus during a tour of the center Wednesday. Researchers can see the grid in more detail than ever before, enabling advancements critical to achieving a reliable and secure power system, said Steven Ashby, director of the Department of Energy national lab in Richland. PNNL has developed systems, such as GridLAB-D, a first-of-its-kind analysis and simulation tool that allows users to see in extremely high resolution how making changes to one part of the grid affects other parts of the system.
The work done at the center will provide benefits from helping lower utility bills for Northwest consumers to increasing the use of renewable energy to leave the world a better place for our children and grandchildren, said Sen. And in true PNNL fashion, it is transitioning its research out of the laboratory into the real world, she said. GridLAB-D is open source software, available for utilities worldwide to use to understand electricity distribution down to the customer level.
The approach is intended to speed development and industry adoption for widespread modernization of the grid. IncSys was one of PNNL’s first industry partners to use the new electricity infrastructure operations center. The electrical industry is undergoing a transformation and its challenges have never been greater or more important, said Elliot Mainzer, chief executive of the Bonneville Power Administration. The new Systems Engineering Building also houses PNNL’s Building Operations Control Center. It can look at the entire PNNL campus, including its approximately 35 buildings, and analyze more than 50,000 data points a day, said sustainability engineer Shan Belew. On a bank of monitors hanging the length of the room, he can watch data ranging from which buildings are using the most energy to room-by-room operations of a climate control system that adapts to the absence of workers. PNNL is working toward a 30 percent energy reduction on its campus between 2003 and this year.


Elsewhere in the building is the Power Electronics Laboratory, large enough for electric vehicles to be driven in for research on charging, energy storage and controls.
The 24,000-square-foot building on Horn Rapids Road was designed by Meier Architecture Engineering of Kennewick and built by DGR*Grant of Richland. Even as the world of transportation technology rushes forward, two of the Golden State's largest cities are preaching evolution rather than revolution. The company's subsidiary Sidewalk Labs may or may not be meeting with Alphabet leadership soon to discuss such a project. The Federal Highway Administration is calling on state and local transportation agencies to work together on a new data-reporting initiative. Our weekly newsletter delivers breaking stories to help you solve the challenges faced in building economically and socially robust communities.
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Markets & FinanceFinancial market analysis and financial data for major energy companies. InternationalInternational energy information, including overviews, rankings, data, and analyses. Three of the eight North American Electric Reliability Corporation(NERC) reliability regions span both the United States and Canada, effectively integrating the Canadian grid with the United States.
A123 Systems (Nasdaq:AONE), a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate® lithium ion batteries and systems, today announced that it will supply a Grid Battery System (GBS) to Maui Electric Company (MECO), a utility serving residents and businesses on the islands of Maui, Lanai and Molokai in Hawaii. Led by MECO and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, the Maui Smart Grid Project is designed to help MECO demonstrate and evaluate new technologies for operating the electric grid more efficiently.
This is the type of help MECO needs to incorporate unreliable wind and solar energy sources into their system. Schneider Electric has launched a project to bring power protection to customers in the North West of England.


Schneider Electric will install a tool in the distribution network company’s control room, helping future proof its grid and securing power supply for more than five million people. Off-grid living often entails making adjustments to electricity usage habits to ensure living within the limitations of the system’s installed design specifications.
But the real magic is the access to live data for research and its analysis on high-performance computers.
Volttron, a PNNL system that allows appliances and other devices to communicate with each other to prioritize power needs and coordinate delivery, also is open source and publicly available.
An adjacent outdoor area provides space to connect to even larger assets, such as utility-scale energy storage units and commercial-grade rooftop air conditioners. For example, seasonal variation in electric demand means the two countries can share resources: electric heating causes Canadian load to peak in winter, while the United States is largely summer-peaking (because of air conditioning). Energy Information Administration, based on data from EIA and the National Energy Board of Canada. The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator controls a portion of the Canadian grid in Manitoba. The project also aims to help residents better manage and reduce energy consumption during periods of high demand. As our networks become more complex, peak demand increases and more renewable sources are introduced, the ability to dynamically adapt network configurations for efficiency and protection is crucial. It serves as a living laboratory to demonstrate the cutting-edge technology developed at PNNL, Studarus said. Instead of each country building up capacity that would sit idle for many months of the year, sharing resources reduces the need for expensive facilities on both sides of the border. Specific objectives include reducing distribution circuit peak load, minimizing emissions, enabling greater utilization of renewable energy sources and improving power quality and grid stability. The company’s proprietary Nanophosphate® technology is built on novel nanoscale materials initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is designed to deliver high power and energy density, increased safety and extended life.
A123’s GBS storage systems are designed to provide a complete, turnkey solution to help MECO meet these objectives by providing a number of services in addition to peak-load shifting, including regulating voltage fluctuation, reactive power (VAR) support and relieving wind curtailment. A123 leverages breakthrough technology, high-quality manufacturing and expert systems integration capabilities to deliver innovative solutions that enable customers to bring next-generation products to market.
Both countries, and the entities that operate their electric transmission systems, are working to improve grid reliability.



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