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Smart Grid
​The region’s electricity system has grown substantially through the decades. But today organizations, including BPA are employing new technologies to enhance the power grid and solve industry challenges.
​Smart Grid Regional Business Case
​​In 2009, BPA launched a study, known as the Smart Grid Regional Business Case, to analyze the costs and benefits of smart-grid technologies and identify smart grid investments with the highest potential value for BPA, electric utilities and the Northwest. Several future scenarios were considered for the analysis, including significant increases in the adoption rates of solar or building automation and major advancements in energy storage. The study was also developed with input from a number of regional stakeholders, including distribution utilities and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and incorporated findings from the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project and other smart grid studies.
In 2013, Navigant released interim results, which pinpointed both opportunities and risks of regional smart grid investments and suggested that benefits are likely to surpass costs. In 2015, Navigant completed the extensive analysis. Overall, the final results show that the benefits will very likely exceed the costs by about $6 billion, but that the picture is nuanced. In particular, technologies for optimizing transmission and distribution, grid reliability and demand response showed promise. Read the 106-page Smart Grid Regional Business Case or the six-page summary.
Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project
In 2010, the Battelle Memorial Institute, 11 electric utilities across five states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming), six technology partners, two universities and BPA began testing smart grid technologies and approaches as part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project – the largest smart grid project of its kind in the nation with participation from 60,000 electric customer meters. The $178 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, BPA’s Technology Innovation Office, and public and private participants, emerged out of previous collaborations between BPA and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on the Olympic Peninsula’s GridWise Project, a year-long research project that explored price-responsive household technology, dynamic electricity pricing and consumer behavior.
The project supported the evaluation of 55 different technologies and used an innovative transactive control concept to deploy distribution level and household technologies. Via an interactive, market-based signal, the project increased energy consumption by project participants when wind energy was abundant, typically at night, and decreased their energy use during peak hours when energy prices were most expensive.

At the end of the five-year demonstration, which wrapped up in 2015, the project issued an 840-page technology performance report and a 32-page summary. The report concludes that smart meters, automated control of power distribution and other intelligent energy technologies can improve energy efficiency and possibly reduce power costs. However, more research and development are needed to support utility-led smart grid deployment.

“The demo project has laid the groundwork for a more reliable, efficient and sustainable power grid in the Northwest,” says Terry Oliver, BPA’s chief technology innovation officer. “We now have more insight into smart-grid technologies that could provide value to the region.” 

Field sites

  • Avista Utilities (with Washington State University), Pullman, Wash.
  • Benton Public Utility District, Kennewick, Wash.
  • City of Ellensburg, Wash.
  • Flathead Electric Cooperative, Kalispell, Mont.
  • Idaho Falls Power, Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Lower Valley Energy, Teton-Palisades Territory, Wyo.
  • City of Milton-Freewater, Ore.
  • NorthWestern Energy, Helena and Philipsburg, Mont.
  • Peninsula Light Company, Fox Island, Wash.
  • Portland General Electric, Salem, Ore.
  • University of Washington (with Seattle City Light), Seattle, Wash.

Technology partners

  • Alstom Grid
  • IBM
  • Netezza (now part of IBM)
  • QualityLogic
  • Spirae
  • Vaisala (formerly 3TIER)

 Regional Business Case


 Project Success Stories