Grid operators who spend their days
managing a piece of the nation's electric
grid could walk into the Electricity
Infrastructure Operations Center (EIOC)
at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
and feel right at home.
Complete with $3 million in energy
management system software provided
by industry leader Areva T&D, secure
computer networks, 30 work stations,
more than 100 servers, 25 special-purpose
computers and a 115-square-foot video
wall, the EIOC is a fully capable control
center with access to real data from North
America's eastern and western power grids.
"We have created a platform for
research and development that serves as
a point of departure for grid operations,"
said Ross Guttromson, EIOC manager.
"That means this facility picks up where
industry currently leaves off."
By adding utility-specific grid models
and SCADA data, the EIOC actually
could control part of the grid just like
the 130 existing control centers in North
America. Its primary purpose, however, is
to provide a real operations environment
for researchers to develop, assess, test and
deploy tools for managing the grid.
The functionality and data available
in the EIOC make it possible to try
out new technologies without the
cost and risk of potentially negatively
effecting an actual system. As a safe
test bed, researchers can work more quickly through the iterative process
of developing and refining technology,
which includes manufacturers,
researchers and users. "I like to say you
can get about 80 percent of the benefit of
a full-blown demonstration for about
20 percent of the cost," Guttromson said.
Some research in the EIOC is
focused on helping operators understand
what's happening on neighboring
systems, how it might affect their
own system and what to do once they
know there is a problem. "It's about
understanding what you need to know at
the right time and knowing what to do
with it," Guttromson said.
In addition to visualization
technologies and improved predictions
of grid behavior, the EIOC is home
to human factors research. By
understanding the psychology of
operators, the way they approach
their jobs and their workplace culture,
researchers can address those aspects in
new technologies so they actually get
used instead of sitting on the shelf.
The EIOC also supports operator
training, exploring uniquely realistic
simulations and scenarios that include
failing indicators and computer hackers.
DOE and government agencies
can use the EIOC to test solutions and
understand the potential benefits of
technologies. This facility also could
be used by utilities trying to solve a
or by manufacturing
in safely testing new
them with users and
with actual dataŚ
all within the same
environment where the
will be put to use.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.