ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
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Center for Power and Energy

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Team seeks MRI–quality grid monitoring

An ECE team led by Arun Phadke is working with Dominion Virginia Power to push power grid monitoring from “X-ray quality to MRI-quality.” The $1.5 million project, funded by the DoE, involves synchrophasor technology first built at Virginia Tech.

The research project also involves Quanta Technology of Raleigh, N.C.
“If you characterize the current state of technology for monitoring the power system as an X-ray image, synchrophasor technology will provide MRI-quality data,” said Phadke. “Dominion’s system is a unique and good proving ground for application of these techniques.”

Phadke’s work with synchrophasor technology, which provides precise, real-time data on transmission system conditions, began nearly 27 years ago. He invented the key building block of this technology — the phasor measurement unit — and credits the 2003 blackout of the northeast United States for initiating the emergence of this technology.

“A smarter, more efficient and reliable electric grid means better service for customers, benefits for the environment and lower costs in the long run,” said Dominion Virginia Power Chief Executive Officer Paul Koonce. “What is particularly appealing about this technology is that it can be applied to our existing transmission network, not just new projects.”

The new technology provides grid operators with the ability to better foresee, prevent and manage potential overloads on the grid, and route power more efficiently. This enables maximum efficiency and reliability for Dominion’s transmission grid.