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Posted on August 23, 2017

VIDEO: PG&E Helping to Unlock the Grid of the Future

PG&E is working with a number of partners to unlock the power of California’s grid, finding new and innovative ways to meet the ever-changing demands of its customers.

“The California grid is changing rapidly. With aggressive policy targets bringing on more renewables and more distributed energy resources, the challenge now becomes for utilities and third-party providers to ensure that the grid is operated safely and reliably,” said Dave Margolius, market development manager with Green Charge.

Green Charge is just one of the many innovative companies helping PG&E realize the power of the grid.

Dave Margolius of Green Charge, and Alex Portilla, with PG&E's grid innovation and integration, talk about a pilot project underway in San Jose to test new technology.

“PG&E is partnering with General Electric, Tesla and Green Charge on a pilot in San Jose to test new technology to incorporate solar and battery connected with smart inverters to the grid,” said PG&E’s Alex Portilla, principal, grid integration and innovation.

“And we’re using an innovative software technology called a Distributed Energy Resource Management System provided by General Electric,” said Portilla.

Integrating customer choices

“One of the key goals of the project is how to integrate customers’ choices, how to help integrate customer-owned and operated assets into the grid operation. So when you look at all these elements, you need the proper brain to do that, and we are providing a software platform which is connecting the storage systems into the grid control room environment,” said Dr. Jayant Kumar, global smart grid program director, G.E. Grid Solutions.

“On this project, we’re partnering with Tesla to put solar and batteries in about 35 homes down in San Jose,” said Portilla.

Energy storage is also on the horizon, another possible way to support the electric grid during periods of high demand.

“Green Charge is installing several energy storage systems on site of commercial customers in the San Jose area,” said Margolius. “We’ll be integrating our software platform with G.E.’s Distributed Energy Resource Management System. We’ll also be providing the PG&E operators with an interface with which they can view the available energy that our systems will have for them to test and demonstrate.”

A project that puts solar and batteries in about 35 percent of homes in San Jose is just one of the many efforts underway to help unlock the grid of the future.

Working together, to test new technology is key.

“So what we are trying to learn here is what it takes our innovation to get to the field. Because PG&E is the best place that I can experiment what we have been innovating, and learn from the real systems working,” said Kumar.

Blueprint for the industry

“So with this pilot we’re looking to learn about the people, process, and technology required to run the grid in the future. That’s a grid with high penetration of solar, lots of batteries and new ways of interacting with our customers,” said Portilla.

For Margolius, what is learned could help serve as a guide for the industry.

“The project teams from all companies involved really want this to be a blueprint for the industry. In the time that we’ve been working together, we’ve gotten a tremendous of inquiries from other utilities, distributed energy resource providers, and even customers, wondering what the outcome’s going to be, what we’re going to learn, so that they can take it, and hopefully reproduce it in their own areas,” he said.

Added Portilla: “The goal here is to integrate these resources to continue to provide the safe, reliable, affordable and clean grid that our customers have come to expect over the last 100 years.”

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