Integration with existing technology will enable local operational control from smart meters
(Providence, RI – March 17, 2020) Utilidata, an industry leader in grid edge optimization, announced today that the company has secured the rights to a breakthrough technology that will put real-time operational controls at the edge of the electric grid. Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with funding from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects – Energy (ARPA-E) program, the Real-time Optimal Power Flow (RT-OPF) technology enables highly localized load control, enabling seamless integration of distributed energy resources (DERs). Utilidata plans to embed this technology, along with its existing voltage optimization technology and virtual power flow model, into smart meters, unlocking new potential for grid edge control.
“This is game-changing technology because it allows us to put operational controls at the grid edge, in smart meters, instead of relying on sensors that send data back to a centralized system,” said Marissa Hummon, Utilidata’s Chief Technology Officer. “Smart meters collect 25 million measurements each month, but utilities typically use far less than one percent of that data. When combined with our virtual power flow model, the RT-OPF technology will leverage millions of sub-second measurements to control DERs installed at homes or businesses. This will make DERs like solar panels, batteries and electric vehicle chargers more cost effective for customers and make their homes more resilient during outages, which are the kind of customer-centric benefits smart meters should provide.”
Utilidata is currently working with Landis+Gyr to embed core operational algorithms in advanced meters and was the first to launch a third-party application for Itron’s OpenWay Riva platform. The RT-OPF technology, which seamlessly connects the electric grid to major energy assets in a customer’s home – including solar panels, battery storage, and/or electric vehicles – and manages load in real-time, will complement the company’s existing real-time voltage optimization solution.
“When our team at NREL first conceived of this technology and secured ARPA-E funding, our vision was that utilities would be able to take localized control of lots of different distributed devices, without having to send the data to a centralized location,” said Andrey Bernstein, Senior Researcher in NREL’s Power Systems Engineering Center, and one of the core developers of this technology. “Now that we’ve delivered on that vision, we look forward to working with Utilidata to bring our RT-OPF technology to market. By embedding the technology in smart meters, there is a strong technical and commercial path to scale.”
The RT-OPF technology, developed in NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), has already been tested with Southern California Edison, on a microgrid in Sonoma, California, and at Holy Cross Energy in Colorado. These tests have demonstrated the technology’s ability to dramatically reduce the cost of electric service for customers through demand flexibility, avoid issues of DER saturation so that all customers who want DERs can install them, and enable a customer to auto-isolate and become a resilient microgrid.
“The one device that every utility relies on is the meter,” said Bryan Hannegan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Holy Cross Energy. “By harnessing the computing power already resident in that meter and using it to compute optimal power flow, the RT-OPF technology can help utilities like Holy Cross Energy better manage and control distributed energy resources like solar PV systems and electric vehicle chargers for the benefit of the grid as well as for the benefit of the consumer. This will allow us to improve and expand the ways we provide affordable, clean and resilient energy services to the people and communities we serve.”
By fully integrating grid-edge operational software like RT-OPF and voltage optimization into smart meters, Utilidata is helping utilities make the grid more secure and driving economic growth in grid edge hardware, grid edge software and DER markets.
About Utilidata: Utilidata®, Inc., is an industry leader in energy grid optimization. The company’s patented technology captures real-time signals from the electric grid and provides actionable insights to save energy, integrate distributed energy resources, and better detect grid anomalies. The company is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island. For more information, please visit http://www.utilidata.com or follow @Utilidata on Twitter.