Oregon PUC approves PGE smart grid report

portland general electric pge elp

Portland General Electric’s 2015 report on smart grid technologies was accepted by the Oregon Public Utility Commission Oct. 13, with a few recommendations on what the utility should include in future reports.

The order adopted PUC staff’s recommendations and took into account the views of other parties, including the Citizen’s Utility Board, which commented on a “conspicuous absence of costs and benefits of projects” compared with the 2014 report. The PUC directed PGE to include a summarizing table of all research, development and pilot projects using smart grid technology, along with expected costs and benefits.

In a previous order on the 2014 report, the PUC instructed PGE to provide an update on how its conservation voltage reduction pilot program is doing, and the preliminary results “are promising and exciting,” it said in the recent order.

CVR technology allows utilities to reduce voltage slightly on power lines to save energy when the system is not being stressed, and PGE’s pilot program, in place at two transformers, showed savings of 2.3 percent in summer months, the PUC said.

PGE estimated that implementation of CVR at 94 transformers currently equipped with the needed communication equipment could yield an annual energy savings of about 142,934 MWh, the PUC pointed out.

PGE is holding workshops on its 2016 integrated resource plan and indicated that CVR is an option being considered for demand-side resources. PUC staff will monitor the discussions to ensure that CVR is included to the fullest extent possible.

PGE updated its planned “X-Phase Project” to install synchrophasors and accompanying hardware and software at all transmission substations.

In reports following blackouts and other events, the U.S. Department of Energy and others have noted that synchrophasors provide real-time data on power grid conditions, and when the data is shared among operators, they improve situational awareness and can help avoid reliability problems by giving operators enhanced visibility on neighboring systems.

The PUC previously questioned whether PGE is coordinating with the Western Electricity Coordinating Council or Peak Reliability on the Western Interconnection Synchrophasor Project. The PUC staff report noted that PGE is assessing whether to join that effort. The PUC said it would like to see the scope and timeline of PGE’s X-Phase Project in future smart grid reports, along with the associated costs and benefits.

The PUC said the utility should provide results and findings of dynamic pricing plans and a direct load control pilot program, and hold a stakeholder process when it considers future pricing programs.

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