Seattle, WA, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- October 29, 2012 - The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration began its two-year energy usage data collection period last week.

The project, covering five Northwest states, was launched in February 2010 with support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding through the Department of Energy and co-funded by the participating utilities.

The 11 participating utilities will evaluate the benefits of smart grid technologies locally in their respective cities and at the regional level. The project team will look at how a smarter grid can help deliver electricity more efficiently to avoid congestion in the transmission system and how more wind power can be used. The project's data collection and analysis efforts are expected to provide an unprecedented view into how smart grid concepts can provide regional benefits while improving consumer choice and reliability locally.

“The two-way information exchange in the demonstration allows grid operators to make the existing electric grid more efficient – while also exploring how using other technologies, such as energy storage devices, smart appliances and wind power, can bolster the reliability of our system,” said Carl Imhoff, Electricity Infrastructure Market Sector manager at Battelle, which is leading the project.

The data that will be gathered during the next two years will enable evaluation of the costs and benefits of a smart grid to consumers in all types of utilities in the Pacific Northwest. There will also be evaluation of how to optimize the power system while, at the same time, adding more variable renewable energy resources such as wind and solar.

At the regional level, the Demonstration is testing an innovative concept called “transactive control” through information exchanges connecting the 11 participating utilities, each volunteering to participate in the study with the Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center located at Battelle's facilities in Richland, Wash. There, information about demand for electricity, amount of wind power available and wind forecasts are translated into incentive signals, or prices, which are updated every five minutes and sent to participating utilities. This allows contributors to make local decisions on how their piece of the smart grid project can support local and regional grid needs.

The participating utilities are Avista Utilities, Benton PUD, City of Ellensburg, Peninsula Light Company and University of Washington/Seattle City Light in Washington, Flathead Electric Cooperative, Inc. and NorthWestern Energy in Montana, Idaho Falls Power in Idaho, Lower Valley Energy in Wyoming, and Milton-Freewater City Light & Power and Portland General Electric in Oregon.

A diverse team of technology providers are also involved, including Alstom Grid, IBM/Netezza, 3TIER Inc., and Quality Logic Inc. Washington State University and Central Washington University also are directly involved.