Portland General Electric Opens Salem Smart Power Center


Portland General Electric (PGE) has opened its new Salem Smart Power Center, an 8,000-square-foot facility in Salem, Ore., that offers an insider's view of a working smart grid demonstration project.

Outfitted with a large-scale energy storage system, the center is designed to help PGE test how to store and better integrate variable renewable energy sources like solar and wind into the electrical grid, along with several other smart technologies as part of its Salem Smart Power Project. The technologies work together to create a highly reliable ‘micro-grid’ that serves about 500 business and residential customers in southeast Salem.

Among the participating utility customers is Salem-based potato chip-maker Kettle Brand, which is connecting its 616-panel rooftop solar installation to the project to help test storage and bring solar energy into the grid when it is needed most.

PGE collaborated with Eaton and EnerDel Inc. on the $23 million project, which received U.S. Department of Energy matching funds. The Salem center will test energy storage, dispatchable standby generation, remotely operated power line switches, demand response, renewable energy integration and transactive control and is part of the region's Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project (PNW-SGDP).

EnerDel outfitted the center with its 5 MWh lithium-ion battery system, and Eaton provide engineering expertise and two-way inverters to manage and operate the energy storage system. The energy storage system works with state of Oregon standby generators to create a ‘high-reliability zone’ to reduce service interruptions for PGE customers. The Oregon State Data Center, Oregon Military Department and the Anderson Readiness Center are also participating.

The five-year PNW-SGDP, which is managed by Battelle, involves more than 60,000 customers, 11 utilities, the Bonneville Power Administration and several technology participants in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. In the next two years, PGE says it will provide data to PNW-SGDP as one of the project's 13 test sites that represent the region's diverse terrain, weather and demographics.

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