The Most Advanced Microgrid In North America

The most advanced microgrid in North America is the result of a collaboration between Texas utility company Oncor; S&C Electric Company, a leader in smart grid technology; and Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management. The system integrates 9 different distributed generation sources including two solar photovoltaic arrays, a wind powered micro-turbine, two energy storage units, and four generators.

They are assembled into 4 smaller sub-systems and managed by an integrated demonstration center that allows Oncor to showcase the microgrid’s advanced capabilities and benefits for its more than 10,000,000 customers in Texas.

“I am confident that Oncor’s system is one of the most advanced and comprehensive microgrids in the market today,” Philip Barton, Schneider Electric’s director of microgrids, says. In the event of a power outage, S&C’s distribution automation equipment and Schneider Electric’s microgrid controller use high-speed communications and distributed grid intelligence to detect grid issues.

“It does all of this in a matter of seconds, or faster than a customer could find their flashlight in the dark,” says David Chiesa, director of microgrid business development for S&C. “Improving power reliability and optimizing generation assets requires disruptive technologies that allow customers to work on and off the grid. Oncor’s microgrid is showing the world how utilities can help their communities in the future.”

With all the components working together, the system maximizes renewable energy usage and storage while minimizing energy costs. Schneider Electric’s innovative Demand Side Operations platform makes it possible to integrate market pricing signals, weather and forecasting information, historical energy usage data, and real-time building information.

Oncor’s demonstration room features a fully functioning model of the microgrid to show how the system reacts to a loss of grid power.  Once that happens, the switching devices respond accordingly to clear the fault, isolate the faulted section and restore service from an alternate source. The switching devices, controls, communications and software shown in the demonstration room are all real and completely functional.

The system will be shown to the public for the first time at the Third National Microgrids Conference in Dallas on April 14.

Sources: Utility Dive; PR Newswire

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writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.