Though the stimulus bill is no longer making headlines, its ripples are being felt throughout the country, even in Pullman.
WSU is partnering with Avista and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories for the $38 million Pullman section in the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project.
“We are involved because the whole system on campus will be automated,” WSU electrical engineering professor Anjan Bose said. “There will be communication between our grid and the control room at Avista.” Smart Grids use the automation to route power based on where it is needed. Both WSU and Schweitzer will serve as microgrids for Avista to study, Bose said.
WSU was chosen because of its electrical engineering college and its current grid, WSU Energy Systems Director Terry Ryan said.
“The electrical engineering college is well known throughout the area,” he said. “They will be able to consistently develop new tests for the grid and analyze the data.” The project was officially announced by the Department of Energy three weeks ago. Before the project can officially begin, WSU’s grid needs to be upgraded, Bose said.
“It’s a tree of projects, and we will begin working on it early next year,” he said. “Everything needs to engineered and installed. It will take at least two years before everything will be online.” The goal of the system is to make the grids more efficient by having more sensors relaying more data to computers that analyze the data in real time. The grids can then adjust and transfer power were it is needed, Ryan said.
“We have a generating plant and supplies on campus,” Bose said. “If Avista were short on power in certain areas, the grid could turn on our generator and transfer power to where they needed it. It would work the same way if WSU was short on power.” While there is no way to predict if the system will reduce costs, a smart grid system should cut back on hidden costs, Ryan said.
“It should reduce the impacts of power outages and improve the reliability of the system,” he said. “It is definitely a behind-the-scenes improvement.” The project is costing WSU nothing at this point, but that could change throughout the project’s course, Bose said.
Ryan Horlen, The Daily Evergreen – http://www.dailyevergreen.com/story/30457