Smart Grid

October 15, 2012

American Electric Power Expands Smart Grid R&D and Installations with Utilidata

As part of the expansion of its gridSmart project, American Electric Power (AEP) is extending deployment of conservation voltage reduction (CVR) technology from Providence, Rhode Island-based Utilidata, Inc., at substations in its Indiana Michigan Power Operating Company.

AEP’s goal is to replicate results it already has achieved with the Utilidata AdaptiVolt Volt/VAR Optimization (VVO) platform across its other operating companies and service territories—driving reduced demand and creating energy savings for customers.

Columbus, Ohio-based AEP owns nearly 38,000 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity in the United States; as well as the nation's largest electricity transmission system—a nearly 39,000-mile network that directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection. In addition to Michigan, the company’s utility units operate in Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

By integrating AdaptiVolt into an existing SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, or using it as a stand-alone platform, a utility gains a powerful new tool to reduce load, as conditions require. Using the platform, a utility can dispatch voltage-based demand control within seconds. AdaptiVolt uses secure digital communications to implement its closed-loop control system.

In addition, “The innovative approach that AdaptiVolt uses to manage voltage and VARs enables the new energy delivery system,” said Richard Creegan, president and COO of Utilidata. “AdaptiVolt VVO technology will allow utilities to accommodate energy flows from wind, solar and distributed resources across the grid, based on real-time conditions to diversify supply, improve system stability and reduce cost. VVO is a very cost-effective supply side option to reduce demand and energy, while at the same time reducing the customer’s energy usage.”The Utilidata AdaptiVolt engine represents the first in a series of new grid-side applications integrating state-of-the-art, commercial, off-the-shelf monitoring and control technologies to deliver superior Volt/VAR Optimization (VVO), Peak Demand Reduction and Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR).

As part of the research and development collaboration, technical and commercial leaders from AEP will support the product development work being done at Utilidata's newly commissioned smart grid simulation and research center in Rhode Island. The new Utilidata facility is designed to support the testing of current and future digital control technologies that will deliver Volt/VAR Optimization, Peak Demand Reduction and Conservation Voltage Reduction in an environment that can simulate real-world conditions on the electric grid.

The collaborative approach will entail looking at new areas in which Digital Signal Processing (DSP) holds promise for improving utility operations—including fault indication; and integration of distributed generation, electric vehicles on the distribution system.

"We believe that the utility industry has recognized the significant value and benefit of the application of new distribution automation technologies to the evolving grid; and their impact on the delivery of safe, low -cost, reliable electric power," said Scott DePasquale, Utilidata's executive chairman. "We are pleased that AEP is providing us access to their utility operations and planning expertise to guide in the development of our next generation of grid applications here in Providence. We believe Utilidata customers will benefit from this partnership that is focused on bringing innovation to the market faster."

"Having our team provide a utility perspective to the developers and engineers at Utilidata's innovative smart grid development center in Providence is the kind of approach that the industry needs to ensure that the next generation of smart grid products meet the requirements and standards that large utilities like AEP will need to address grid challenges over the next decade," said Tom Jobes, director of Distribution Reliability Planning & Engineering at AEP.

Edited by Brooke Neuman