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GE receives $1.2 million government grant for smart grid development

Iain Morris
December 16, 2014

GE says it has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the US Department of Energy to develop technology that will improve electricity reliability in the event of catastrophic weather events.

The company has teamed up with utility player National Grid (London, UK) and Clarkson University (Potsdam, NY, USA) on the project and say it will improve the resiliency of electricity delivery in northern New York.

The focus area of the project will be the village of Potsdam near the Canadian border, which is said to be prone to ice storms that could damage utility lines and other above-ground power infrastructure.

GE (Fairfield, CT, USA) is funneling $300,000 of its own funds into the project and plans to build a so-called Enhanced Microgrid Control System to keep the town’s electricity system up and running for several days should it become disconnected from the main power station.

The system is also intended to help utilities – like National Grid – to better leverage energy resources like solar, hydropower and thermal.

“The microgrid control system that my team will be developing will bring these renewable power sources online and effectively manage them, along with other traditional generation resources, to improve the reliability and efficiency of the main power grid while helping ensure stable backup power in the event of a blackout,” said Sumit Bose, principal investigator on the project and microgrid technology leader at GE Global Research. “It’s a vital component and critical to the system’s resiliency and overall performance.”

National Grid believes the project will lead to better services for customers and more efficient energy infrastructure.

GE researchers say they will have two goals in mind when developing the grid – providing high-quality power delivery to the local community as well as efficient and reliable grid services to the local utility.

The project should also support the efforts of the Potsdam community to build a new underground system for power and communications during emergency situations.

“New York State’s North Country is a region where we have first-hand knowledge of the tremendous impact that weather can have on our utilities’ infrastructure,” said Clarkson University president Tony Collins. “So, we are excited to be partnering in research that will have an impact not only on Clarkson's neighbors, but also on communities like Potsdam around our state and nation, where severe weather can be disruptive to lives and commerce.”
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