American Electric Power and Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions Will Demonstrate Distributed Energy Resource Microgrids

CERTS Contact: Allan Chen, (510) 486-4210;
Technical Contact: Joe Eto, CERTS Program Manager, (510) 486-7284

Berkeley, California—American Electric Power (AEP) and the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions (CERTS) have signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) to work cooperatively to research, develop, and demonstrate distributed energy resource microgrids.

AEP is one of the nationís largest electric utilities with more than five million customers in 11 states. CERTS is an industry/university/government cooperative group that researches, develops, and disseminates new methods, tools, and technologies to protect and enhance the reliability of the U.S. electric power system.

Distributed energy resources (DER) are gaining acceptance by commercial, institutional and industrial establishments as a way to reduce and better manage energy costs. System integration, including interconnection to the utility and site-specific custom engineering, has emerged as a significant cost of DER installations.

The CERTS Microgrid concept is an advanced approach for enabling the integration, in principle, of an unlimited quantity of distributed energy resources into the electricity grid.

A key feature of a microgrid is its ability, during a utility grid disturbance, to separate and isolate itself from the utility seamlessly, with no disruption to the loads within the microgrid (including no reduction in power quality). Then, when the utility grid returns to normal, the microgrid automatically resynchronizes and reconnects itself to the grid in an equally seamless fashion.

According to University of Wisconsin professor Robert Lasseter, inventor of the CERTS Microgrid concept, "what is unique about the CERTS Microgrid is that it can provide this technically challenging functionality without extensive ( in other words, expensive) custom engineering by incorporating peer-to-peer and plug-and-play concepts for each component within the microgrid. In addition, the design of the CERTS Microgrid also provides high system reliability and great flexibility in the placement of distributed generation within the microgrid."

As part of the MOU, specially modified DER equipment and controls will be assembled at American Electric Powerís R&D facility in Gahana, Ohio. Full-scale testing of the CERTS Microgrid will begin in the summer of 2006.

In explaining AEPís motivation for partnering with CERTS on microgrid research, AEP Executive Vice President, Holly Koeppel, reports "The CERTS Microgrid is a win-win for both the utility and the customer because it is designed from a systemís perspective. It fully addresses the interconnection safety issues of the utility while increasing the utilityís overall reliability. It also lowers the cost of energy to the customer."

Northern Power, a subsidiary of Distributed Energy Systems Corp (Nasdaq: DESC), completed the detailed design for the project and is currently fabricating a portion of the equipment used in the test bed. The company will commission the equipment and assist CERTS with testing.

The initial tests of the CERTS Microgrid are being sponsored by the California Energy Commissionís Public Interest Energy Research program. California has articulated a policy preference for distributed generation that is renewably fueled or used in combined heat and power applications. Todayís utility distribution system design is not very conducive to handling two-way power flows that DER could provide. Utility engineers are justifiably concerned about DER systems interconnected to their grids. Given this constraint, the Energy Commission has been pursuing research that allows for all the value to be extracted from DER while preserving the sanctity of todayís utility distribution system.

The Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions was formed in 1999 to research, develop, and disseminate new methods, tools, and technologies to protect and enhance the reliability of the U.S. electric power system in the transition to a competitive electricity market structure. Its Program Office is located at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. For more information, visit http://certs.lbl.gov/.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California. Visit our Website at http://www.lbl.gov.