MRO Magazine

California uses B.C. firm to study impact of small-scale generators on utility grid

Victoria, BC -- As part of a two-year research and development study to evaluate the effects of distributed generat...

Victoria, BC — As part of a two-year research and development study to evaluate the effects of distributed generation on the California utility grid, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has contracted Reflective Energies of Victoria, B.C., to monitor up to a dozen generation and interconnection sites throughout the state.

To help gather the necessary real-time and logged data from each site, Reflective Energies is using an ION enterprise energy management system from Power Measurement.

The Power Measurement system consists of a network of ION 7600 energy meters installed at selected customer sites, each communicating with a centrally located PC workstation running the ION Enterprise software.

According to Edan Prabhu of Reflective Energies, the goal of this study is to assess, with real-time data, the impact of commercially installed distributed generation (DG) units on the grid, and to use the data to evaluate the interconnection requirements necessary to ensure the safety and reliability of the state’s electrical distribution network.


“This is the first project to independently evaluate, from a power-quality perspective, how commercially installed DG systems affect the grid, and how the grid affects the DG systems,” said Prabhu. “With the Power Measurement system in place, we can continually monitor and analyze the real-time and logged data from multiple locations, to identify ways to reduce costs, and perhaps improve the quality of the interconnections.

The DG systems included in the study are small-scale electricity generators typically owned by electric or gas utilities; independent energy producers; or industrial, commercial, institutional or even residential energy consumers.

“We plan to evaluate as many generator types and interconnection systems as possible,” explained Prabhu, “including engines, fuel cells, gas turbines and photovoltaic systems. At each site, we install one ION monitor at the electric generator, and another at the ‘point of common coupling’ where the utility power lines meet the customers’ power lines. These dual monitors enable us to identify any changes in power quality, both when the DG is running, and when it’s not. This should be a major stepping stone towards understanding the effects of DG on the grid, and maximizing its benefits.”

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