HomeEnergyPortland General Electric launches smart grid test bed in Oregon

Portland General Electric launches smart grid test bed in Oregon

Portland General Electric Company is launching its Smart Grid test bed in Oregon, the company said in a release.

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

PGE’s test bed spans three distinct neighborhoods within its service area. Through the test bed, 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.  

With this pilot, PGE said it is building the roadmap to a virtual power plant that will help address climate change, empower communities in how they consume energy and create a more resilient power system.

PGE also said it will help customers to 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, the entire region will benefit as PGE integrates even more renewable energy resources into its power supply without compromising grid safety, security or reliability, the company said.

Earlier this week, residents in the test bed neighborhoods were automatically enrolled into PGE’s Peak Time Rebates, a demand-response program that rewards customers for shifting their energy use during times when temperatures are particularly hot or cold.

Auto-enrollment will help PGE achieve its target participation rate of at least 66% — approximately ten times the national average for similar programs. This will provide valuable insight into customer interactions with the programs and opportunities to demonstrate the benefits of adopting smart grid technologies, the company said.

Throughout this multi-year pilot, PGE will offer different programs and incentives to understand how best to partner with all types of customers, and how to offer more equitable solutions. The pilot will explore topics including:

-Structuring programs that best fit varying customer needs.

-Automating programs so they’re convenient for customers.

-Working with partners on next-generation offerings.

PGE said it will leverage advanced communications capabilities and distribution system upgrades within three Oregon cities: Hillsboro, Portland and Milwaukie. 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.

“Partnership and collaboration with Portland General Electric is a critical part of our efforts to combat climate change and to make our electricity grid and neighborhoods more resilient, livable and efficient. The City of Portland is excited to learn about smart grid implementation alongside PGE in this important pilot program,” said Ted Wheeler, mayor of Portland.

Portland General Electric serves approximately 887,000 customers in 51 cities.

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