ARI Project

Role of the Smart Grid in Alleviating Electrical Power System Stress Conditions Through Demand Response

This Partnership for Innovation Projects based on collaboration among Virginia Tech, three small businesses and a utility partner. The proposed partnership focuses on the design and evaluation of smart grid sensing and control hardware and software that enable demand response programs to offer customer choices for efficient use of electricity at all levels. This is accomplished through the development of a platform consisting of optimization-control algorithms and product conceptual designs based on electric utility requirements and customer preferences. The hardware designs include a smart power management system and wireless sensor-control devices for 240-Volt end-use appliances, which are necessary to implement efficient and flexible electricity demand control programs. The intellectual merit of this research is the design of advanced control and sensing technologies and algorithms that can serve as the interface between a utility and its customers to enable the implementation of cost-effective demand response programs while providing customer choice.

The broader impacts of this research are:

(1) a potential stronger local economy as a result of the innovative design of new alpha-prototype products that could lead to electric energy saving products in the future; (2) a local job creation opportunity through the development of a new line of businesses or strengthening existing ones for the partner companies and others; and most importantly, (3) a viable improvement in economy nationally as a result of more efficient operation of the power grid by coordinating supply and demand in an optimal manner. The proposed platform will allow the electric utility to operate their assets more efficiently, and at the same time, allow its customers to manage their power consumption without compromising their lifestyle or way of life. In addition, this project has received strong support from the Arlington County government and the Center for Advanced Research and Engineering (CAER) – a public sector organization – both in Virginia. The County of Arlington is in the process of developing a Community Energy Plan, which is expected to recommend extensive use of energy efficient devices and smart grid technologies to optimize the use of electricity in homes and businesses thus reducing the country’s carbon footprint. The outcome of this research complements this local need.