Utility Researching Microgrid Interconnections


New power-electronics control technology will be part of a microgrid installation to be studied at a research facility owned by Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power (AEP), beginning this summer. The utility, along with scientists from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions (CERT), will be investigating microgrids as one approach for minimizing the impact of system-wide outages.

Microgrids are localized electric grid systems designed to serve small communities, commercial developments or industrial sites from a centralized generator or other device. AEP and the CERTS researchers will be studying how well the installed system is able to engage with, and disengage from, the larger utility-operated grid.

The new control technology, developed by Robert Lasseter, a professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is designed to enable peer-to-peer and plug-and-play connections for each microgrid component. Developers suggest the technology could boost implementation of distributed generation and promote greater use of microgrids as a peak-shaving strategy as well as in outage scenarios.

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