This Partnership for Innovation project is based on collaboration among Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University a.k.a Virginia Tech, three small businesses, and a utility partner. The proposed partnership focuses on the design and evaluation of smart grid sensing and control hardware and software that enable demand response programs to offer customer choices for efficient use of electricity at all levels. This capability is to be built through the development of a platform consisting of optimization- control algorithms and product conceptual designs based on electric utility requirements and customer preferences. The hardware designs include a smart power management system and wireless sensor-control devices for 240-Volt end-use appliances, which are necessary to implement efficient and flexible electricity demand control programs. The intellectual merit of this research is the design of advanced control and sensing technologies and algorithms that can serve as the interface between a utility and its customers to enable the implementation of cost-effective demand response programs while providing customer choice.

The broader impacts of this research are (1) a potentially stronger local economy as a result of the innovative design of new alpha-prototype products that could lead to electric energy saving products in the future; (2) a local job creation opportunity through the development of a new line of business for the partner companies and others; and, most important, (3) a viable improvement in the economy at a national level as a result of more efficient operation of the power grid by coordinating supply and demand in an optimal manner. The proposed platform will allow the electric utility to operate its assets more efficiently, and, at the same time, will allow its customers to manage their power consumption without compromising their lifestyle or way of life. In addition, this project has received strong support from two public sector organizations in Virginia: the Arlington County government and the Center for Advanced Research and Engineering (CAER). The County of Arlington is in the process of developing a Community Energy Plan, which is expected to recommend extensive use of energy efficient devices and smart grid technologies to optimize the use of electricity in homes and businesses, thus reducing the county's carbon footprint. The outcome of this research complements this local need.

Partners at the inception of the project are all part of the Knowledge Enhancement Partnership (KEP) unit, consisting of Virginia Tech (Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute (VT-ARI)); three small businesses: Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Inc. (AMTI) (Lynchburg, VA); EIT, LLC (Sterling, VA); and Innovative Wireless Technologies (IWT) (Forest, VA); and a private sector organization: Dominion Virginia Power (Richmond, VA).

Project Report

This Partnership for Innovation (PFI) project was a collaboration among Virginia Tech, three high-tech small businesses and a utility partner. The partnership aims to create a platform, which consists of novel optimization-control algorithms and hardware designs, to enable a diverse and smart demand response, and energy conservation applications ranging from households to utility power grids. The platform enables demand response programs that offer customer choices for efficient use of electricity at all levels. During the course of the project, the research team developed new optimization-based algorithms and a sensor/control hardware prototype for residential demand response (DR) applications. The optimization-based algorithms consist of two sets of algorithms. The first set of algorithm is a human expert-based approach to perform electrical peak demand management. This approach helps allocate demand curtailments (MW) among distribution substations (DSs) or feeders in an electric utility service area based on requirements of the central load dispatch center. Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is used to model a complex decision-making process in this algorithm. The second set of algorithm developed is an intelligent Home Energy Management (HEM) algorithm for managing high power consumption household appliances, e.g., an electric water heater, an air conditioner, a clothes dryer and an electric vehicle. The hardware prototype designs include a smart power management system and wireless sensor-control devices that can control up to four 240-Volt power intensive loads at the same time. The prototype and its associated HEM algorithm provide an insight into the overall HEM system operation for automated residential DR applications. The real-world implementation of the developed system is expected to benefit electric power distribution companies by helping them to avoid distribution transformer overloads with the presence of new power-intensive loads, like electric vehicles. Overall, the project has contributed novel algorithms and advanced technologies to realize the customer interface of the smart grid. In addition, from the project initiation in Sept 2011, this project has resulted in five (5) journal papers, and eight (8) conference papers published/accepted. One graduate student completed his M.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the summer of 2014. Two graduate students are expected to take their Ph.D. preliminary exams in the Fall 2014.

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