Midwest ISO Launches Smart Grid Project

$17.3 Million DOE Stimulus Grant Helps Install More Than 150 Smart Grid Measurement Units

Mar 30, 2010, 15:56 ET from Midwest ISO

CARMEL, Ind., March 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Midwest ISO today launched a three-year program to install more than 150 high-tech monitoring devices that will monitor the state of the electrical grid 30 times each second, increasing the efficiency and reliability of power delivery. Midwest ISO is the first regional transmission organization (RTO) to move forward and execute an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to implement synchrophasors, also known as phasor measurement units (PMUs), to more accurately measure voltage and current within the Eastern Interconnection.

"This is a major step forward toward developing a smart grid system in the Midwest," said John R. Bear, President and CEO of the Midwest ISO. "Synchrophasors will bring a new level of measurement to the grid, similar to what the MRI has done for diagnostic medicine. We will be able to view vital measurements at strategic points along the interconnected transmission network at a level that was previously impossible to reach."

The project will potentially provide several commercial benefits for Midwest ISO members. PMU measurements could increase available transmission for Midwest ISO members and improve system-wide reliability and stability. This could ease the integration of highly-variable sources of energy, such as wind, onto the grid.

"We build in a buffer zone to ensure that variations in energy delivery do not impact the stability of the system and overload our transmission wires," said Mr. Bear. "Now, we'll be able to decrease the size of that buffer zone, and use more of the available transmission to deliver more power more efficiently. And, we will be able to do this without increasing risk or decreasing reliability." 

PMUs are an essential part of a national effort to modernize and connect the grid. Synchrophasor measurements are collected 30 times every second, as opposed to the current once every four seconds, and the data is GPS time-stamped. This allows the data to be 'synchronized' and used to create enhanced grid visualization, operational awareness, stability monitoring, state estimation, and after-the-fact analysis.

The planned roll-out and installation of PMUs within Midwest ISO's membership area will occur during the next three years. The first phase of the project, which began today, involves transmission owners placing 15-20 PMUs at strategic substations throughout the Midwest ISO footprint. After the pilot period, transmission operators will install the remaining PMUs between August 2011 and March 2013.

"We are excited about moving forward with deploying the PMUs enabling increased operational efficiency and reliability," said Roger Harszy, Vice President of Real Time Operations. "The PMUs will provide better indications of grid stress and will facilitate operators to be even more proactive when corrective adjustments are necessary."

The installation and development of PMUs are supported by a $17.3 million Department of Energy grant, which was finalized and approved today by the Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program. These funds make up half the $34.5 million budgeted for implementing PMUs across the Midwest ISO. About $25 million is budgeted for transmission owners to install the devices, with the remaining funds targeted for equipment and software to receive and process data, as well as research on the program.

The industry is still exploring the benefits of PMU data available for analysis. Collaborative efforts between Midwest ISO, the Electric Power Research Institute and engineering programs at the University of Tennessee and the University of South Florida will help determine how this data can be used in future transmission planning. The entire project is scheduled to be in place by March 31st, 2013.

About the Midwest ISO

The Midwest ISO ensures reliable operation of, and equal access to power lines in 13 U.S. states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. The Midwest ISO manages one of the world's largest energy markets, clearing nearly $23 billion in energy transactions annually. The Midwest ISO was approved as the nation's first regional transmission organization (RTO) in 2001. The non-profit 501(C)(4) organization is governed by an independent Board of Directors, and is headquartered in Carmel, Indiana, with operations centers in Carmel and St. Paul, Minnesota. Membership in the organization is voluntary. For more information, visit www.midwestmarket.org.