Knoxville, TN, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- August 18, 2010 - Three new utility demonstration sites have been added by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to its Smart Grid Demonstration Initiative – at Duke Energy, Southern California Edison (SCE), and Southern Company.

This brings the total number of demonstration sites to eleven for the initiative, which is a five-year collaborative research effort focused on the design, implementation, and assessment of field demonstrations to address prevalent challenges with integrating distributed energy resources in grid and market operations to create a “virtual power plant.”.

The objective of Duke Energy’s smart grid demonstration project is to optimize distributed energy resources to achieve a more efficient and reliable grid, enable improved customer programs, and prepare for increased adoption of distributed renewable generation and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). To achieve its goal, Duke Energy will install 40,000 advanced meters, 8,000 communication nodes at transformers, and distribution automation including voltage/VAR control, self healing, sectionalization, and line sensors. Five homes will be equipped with solar photovoltaic panels, battery energy storage PEVs, and home energy management systems. The project will employ dynamic pricing for load control and intends for three to five hundred plug-in electric vehicles to be on the roads and charging by the end of 2011.

SCE’s project will deploy smart grid technologies to improve the operating performance of local distribution systems and encourage customer participation in the control of electricity demand. The integration efforts will span fundamental energy delivery segments such as system protection and automation, a centralized integrated control platform, distributed energy resources and an array of “edge of the network” devices. The project is divided into four topic areas including energy smart customer devices, year 2020 distribution system, secure energy network, and workforce of the future. The intent of the project is to produce an integrated system of protection, performance, efficiency, and scale that extends across the energy delivery system to provide multiple stakeholder benefits.

Southern Company’s project intends to approach the smart grid in a fully integrated systems approach across four retail operating companies, Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power. Southern Company demonstrates a more complete model of a smart grid by incorporating an integrated distribution management system (IDMS), renewable energy generation including PV, landfill gas, and wind, energy storage at transformer and substation level, an intelligent universal transformer, advanced distribution operational measures, customer response to dynamic pricing in two different demographic regions, and new communications applications. By deploying and demonstrating integration of these technologies and applications, Southern Company will be enabled to create an overall aggregated virtual power plant, increase system reliability, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and lower system demand.

In a recent two-year report on the initiative, EPRI reported significant progress in developing a foundation of tools and references while performing research to support the advancement of integration of distributed energy resources in the demonstrations (see EPRI reports significant progress in smart grid demonstrations). These utility host site demonstrations will now provide the core foundation of the initiative moving forward beyond 2010.

Due to the large number of new smart grid demonstration projects around the world, EPRI has decided to extend the initiative by a year through 2014 and therefore will be accepting new members whose projects extend into that year.