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WVU faculty receives DOE funding to improve power grid resiliency

Students in Lane Dept.

Students discuss research in the Grid Operation Lab at the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at WVU. (WVU Photo/Brian Persinger)

In the event of a power outage, no one wants to be left in the dark. Researchers in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources are joining a project led by Illinois utility company Commonwealth Edison to develop algorithms and technology to fortify power grid systems, allowing for better flexibility and security during extreme weather events.

Story by Kaley LaQuea, Communications Specialist
Photo by Brian Persinger

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.—

“This innovative project represents a significant step forward in the evolution of power grid technology and deployment for enhancing coordination among various grid components to optimize the use of distributed energy resources, electric vehicle infrastructure, grid-interactive efficient buildings and intelligent sensors that will lead to community impact,” said Anurag Srivastava, chair of the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. 

The $50 million US Department of Energy grant is part of the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships program, a $10 billion federal initiative directed at improving power grid resiliency in the face of growing threats due to climate change. The team, led by Srivastava along with professor Parviz Famouri and associate professor Sarika Khushalani Solanki, will receive $1.2 million to support ongoing development. 

As weather patterns become more unpredictable, improvements to infrastructure technology will help keep the lights on when natural disasters hit.

“Over the years these billion-dollar events have been increasing,” Srivastava said. “Weather prediction allows us to pre-plan and take action proactively and strategically to minimize the impacts of power outages. This is good practice for preparing for extreme weather events.”

Right now there's limited technical training for utility grid operators on what to do following extreme weather events, and restoring power quickly and autonomously with multiple grid components affected by weather events becomes an increasing challenge. When power lines are down or damage to infrastructure prevents crews from implementing a quick fix to get the grid up and running, the real challenge is to figure out the exact location and scope of the damage and impacts. Data from sensors and system information with machine learning can diagnose the problem to get things up and running more efficiently.

Through its Interoperable Control Framework project, ComEd will utilize sensor technology to enhance grid utilities, utilizing remote intelligent sensors and machine learning algorithms to remotely assess a situation and troubleshoot more efficiently in the event of a power outage.

Srivastava will lead the WVU team in analyzing the data from the sensors for event detection and classification using physics-aware machine learning and resilience metrics to determine grid control with distributed energy resources. This data will be used to deploy technologies to strengthen the electrical grid.


-WVU-

kl/11/30/23

Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

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