ComEd recently announced that it has been selected by the United States Department of Energy to receive a $1.2 million grant to build a master controller that could drive the operations of clusters of microgrids. ComEd assembled a group of leading science and technology partners for the DOE proposal including Alstom Grid, Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois Institute of Technology, Microsoft, OSIsoft, Quanta Technologies, S&C Electric, Schneider Electric and University of Denver.
The master controller is considered to be the brain of the microgrid as it collects data from a variety of individual energy resources, centrally determines how to control and operate those energy resources (i.e., generators, energy storage, adjustable loads, smart switches, etc.) and sends out the control signals that ultimately execute the power activity.
“Creating a master controller is a critical step in unleashing the value and potential of microgrids,” said Joe Svachula, Vice President, Engineering and Smart Grid, ComEd. “While working with our technology partners to develop a first-of-its-kind microgrid controller that could work in a single or clustered environment, ComEd also will gain essential insights into the foundational building blocks for deploying a robust microgrid.”
“This award from the Department of Energy will allow IIT faculty and staff to collaborate with ComEd, Argonne National Laboratory, and the other partners in order to help position Chicago as a hub for promoting energy sustainability and independence in the United States,” says Mohammad Shahidehpour, Director of the Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation and Bodine Chair Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology. “Through this award, IIT will be able to help further promote the Galvin Center’s mission for excellence in smart grid education, research and workforce development.”
Support for the ComEd proposal came from several Chicago officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“ComEd’s community-based microgrid has the potential to provide benefits to the city through improved reliability and enhanced resiliency in response to weather related events,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “I look forward to seeing the benefits of ComEd’s plan to the efficiency and economy of energy systems in Chicago and across the country.”
Each of the partner companies will contribute services to help make the master controller a reality.
“There is no doubt that microgrids will be core components of the future integrated grids and extensive research and development efforts will be undertaken in upcoming years. The truly remarkable and distinguishing feature of this project is that it is initiated and will be led by a utility company,” said Amin Khodaei, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, University of Denver. “It is a privilege for University of Denver to collaborate with ComEd as a forward-looking utility and its visionary team on this important and time-critical effort. This award will allow University of Denver to collaborate with ComEd and leading authorities in various aspects of microgrid controller design and planning to institute interconnected microgrids as viable energy systems and help address ongoing challenges of national energy security, sustainability, and resiliency.”