2007 Grid Friendly™ appliance controller for grid frequency monitoring and stabilization Far West

Award Year 

The term “grid” refers to the North American power highways, which move and channel elec-tricity via power lines and substations. If the grid suffers an imbalance and becomes unstable, it could lead to a blackout—similar to the summer 2003 East Coast power outage. PNNL research-ers have developed an innovative technology, the Grid FriendlyTM Appliance Controller (GFA), which senses grid conditions by monitoring the frequency of the system and provides an auto-matic response (more) in times of disruption by reducing the demand with no apparent disruption visible to the consumer’s everyday life. This simple computer chip can be installed in household appliances, such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, air conditioners, water heaters, etc., and can turn them off for a short period of time—just a few seconds up to a few minutes—to allow the grid to stabilize. The GFA can be pro-grammed to react autonomously within a frac-tion of a second when a disturbance is detected, whereas power plants take several minutes to come up to speed and provide the appropriate response. The GFA technology can even be programmed to delay the restart of appliances instead of allowing all of them to come on at once following a power disruption, easing the transition back into full demand on the grid. The GFA was developed and tested at PNNL, and has been transferred into the homes of sev-eral hundred consumers in the Northwest as part of a demonstration project that is demonstrating the device’s applicability to grid stabilization and assessing the resulting consumer response. The capability of the technology to monitor the frequency of the power grid system and respond automatically will result in the grid’s increased Grid FriendlyTM Appliance Controller for Grid Frequency Monitoring and StabilizationDepartment of EnergyPacific Northwest National LaboratoryCarl Imhoff, David Chassin, Donald Hammerstrom, Jeffrey Dagle, Robert Silva, Robert Prattstability and reliability, making it less costly to operate and ultimately leading to lower costs for consumers. Using the GFA to control demand instead of supply to stabilize the grid also results in fewer power outages, as well as allowing power plants to operate more efficiently and cost-effec-tively by reducing the need for backup generators to remain constantly on standby. (less)