U.S. Department of Energy Selects The Navy Yard as a Location for Testing Micro-PMU Technology

by Navy Yard
March 29, 2016

Categories: Energy, Innovation, Technology,

PIDC, Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation, announced today that The Navy Yard has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the site for a study on new technology for advanced electrical distribution and controls. The study will focus on how to make local electric distribution systems more reliable and create additional capabilities for the energy industry to deploy larger-scale renewable energy within local communities. This pilot program is the first of its kind on a functional microgrid.

The announcement was made jointly with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), whose Grid Integration Group has been developing a new technology known as micro-Phasor Measurement Units (micro-PMUs). LBNL will work with PIDC’s energy team at The Navy Yard through 2017. The Navy Yard was selected because of its advanced smart grid distribution system, also referred to as a microgrid, currently being modernized in partnership with PECO.

“We are thrilled to partner with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab on this program at The Navy Yard,” said John Grady, President of PIDC. “Our microgrid is a defining strength of our progressive business campus and major asset for research like this and for attracting and retaining companies, which is why PIDC embarked on a modernization update. PIDC is committed to investing in energy generation and distribution for our clients that is cleaner, more reliable and more resilient.”

In 2014, PIDC began an update of the energy infrastructure at The Navy Yard to improve the management of power delivery. PIDC has engaged a consortium of partners, including PECO, Penn State, GE Grid Solutions, PJM, DTE Energy, and several additional private sector partners to establish The Navy Yard as a national center for emerging smart grid and distributed generation policies, practices and technologies. Local firm Burns Engineering, Inc. led the development of the microgrid engineering plans and is providing engineering support as well as project and construction management during the ongoing modernization project. The new fully integrated and modernized system is expected to be operational by end of June 2016 in time for LBNL’s study to commence.

In addition to the grid modernization work underway, PECO will also be involved in coordinating with LBNL to assure that The Navy Yard’s microgrid functions efficiently with the utility’s grid. “Advancing smart energy to benefit our customers and our region is a key focus at PECO,” said Liz Murphy, PECO Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs. “We have a long history of collaboration with PIDC and we look forward to continuing our support to further develop this microgrid control technology.”

The study by LBNL will test micro-Phasor Measurement Units (micro-PMUs), a modified version of the existing control technology of Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs). Currently used by electric utilities throughout the nation, PMUs serve as sensors that monitor the quality of electric power flowing through large power transmission lines and communicate this critical data in real time to the transmission grid operator. LBNL will use The Navy Yard to study the use of micro-PMUs to provide a similar function on a smaller scale. The data from micro-PMUs provides real-time visibility and deep analytics for local power distribution circuits.

“The selection of The Navy Yard for this research underscores the reputation of our unregulated microgrid as one of the most progressive in the country,” stated Will Agate, Senior Vice President, Navy Yard Energy Operations and Initiatives at PIDC. “This pilot installation will study control integration on a commercial functioning microgrid. Lessons learned in this project will make it possible to base future micro-PMU algorithm development and data analytics upon real system conditions which can be deployed in future installations throughout the United States.”