DOE researching synchrophasors to improve U.S. power grid

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As the first-ever International Synchrophasor Symposium continues in Atlanta, the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability released a new report chronicling American efforts to deploy this technology as well as two new funding opportunities to further advance the technology.

Adam Cohen, DOE’s Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Energy, made the announcements during his remarks at the symposium.

Synchrophasor technology, which uses systems of phasor measurement units to measure data and time-synchronize it using GPS satellites, provides system operators with a near real-time snapshot of the electric grid’s operating status. The data provided by these systems and its many applications are leading to a more reliable and resilient electric power grid.

“Already, time-synchronized wide-area measurements are reducing the time required for post-event analysis,” Cohen noted in his remarks. “Whereas collecting the data following the August 2003 Northeast blackout consumed several months, collecting data following a disruption in 2011 took just hours. But the true value of synchrophasors is in real-time applications, bringing near-immediate insight directly to the control rooms… The work of NASPI and International Smart Grid Action Network in deploying synchrophasors and developing applications that use them is the very foundation on which the future of the electricity system rests.”

“Synchrophasors are a vital component of a modernized grid, allowing system operators to monitor the health of the system,” said Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary for DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. “Continuing to work with our partners to further advance the technology and build on the progress that we have seen to date is vital to creating a more reliable, resilient and flexible electricity delivery system.”  

The report released today, titled “Advancement of Synchrophasor Technology in Projects Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” summarizes the results of the investment by DOE and industry of approximately $358 million to deploy synchrophasor technology. As noted in the report, there were only around 166 research-grade, networked phasor measurement units (PMUs) in North America in 2009. Recovery Act projects installed 1,380 additional networked PMUs and 226 phasor data concentrators – which collectively provide operators visibility into the transmission systems that serve approximately 88% of the total U.S. load and cover approximately two-thirds of the continental United States. In total, there are now nearly 2,000 PMUs on the North American grid.

The report is available on the OE website and on smartgrid.gov.

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