We are seeing a serious effort by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop technologies to help make the grid more reliable and secure. Although the DOE has been working for years on some of these technologies, it was not until the summer of 2003 that DOE's Office of Electric Transmission and Distribution (OETD) was formed to provide a focal point for T&D technologies. Six utilities— including Consolidated Edison Company of New York, First Energy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Southern California Edison and others with the leadership of Navigant Consulting Inc.— banded together to form the Utility Forum to provide technology direction to this new office and to work with the OETD to execute its program.
The Utility Forum decided to focus on advanced technologies that could provide value in the short term if a concerted effort focused on demonstration and commercialization. The group then identified 55 high-priority research initiatives across nine research platforms, including System Life Extension, Regional Operations and Control, and Off-the-Shelf Technologies. The range of technologies included on these platforms is quite broad and includes advanced cable diagnostics, unmanned aerial vehicles, phasor measurement, fault current limiters, advanced siting models, emitter turn-off thyristors, advanced conductors and energy storage.
The group also worked with OETD to provide input into OETD's research plans and to work more closely on execution. The next step for the Utility Forum is to commit to shared investments for specific, needed technology research likely to materialize first as demonstration projects.
The Utility Forum participants will expand their influence as other utilities join in. For more information contact Stan Blazewicz at SBlazewicz@NavigantConsulting.com.