WECC CEO to pursue extension of time for synchrophasor project

The CEO of the Western Electric Coordinating Council (WECC) has been given the OK to negotiate with Department of Energy (DOE) for a six-month extension of the grant execution and implementation period for the Western Interconnection Synchrophasor Program (WISP).

Through the WISP, WECC and 19 other entities are installing more than 300 new or upgraded phasor measurement units (PMUs), which can identify and analyze system vulnerabilities in real time as well as detect evolving disturbances on the western bulk electric system, according to WECC.

In 2009, WECC submitted an application for $53.9m in grant funding from the DOE under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Smart Grid Investment Grant initiative. Nine WISP partners pledged matching funds to extend and deploy synchrophasor technologies within their systems, bringing total potential funding for WISP to $107.8m.

Ultimately, the grant was approved and a grant agreement signed on April 1, 2010.

In requesting the board’s permission to negotiate a no-cost extension of the grant at WECC’s board of directors annual meeting in Portland, Ore., June 25, CEO Mark Maher said the program continues to progress in its execution phase and is meeting its key milestones.

Data centers have been built in Vancouver, Wash., and in Loveland, Colo., and eight participants are transmitting PMU data to center in Vancouver. In addition, two participants are exchanging PMU data with each other, Maher said.

In addition, Maher reported that participants have installed 57 PMUs and 28 phasor data concentrators (PDC). “We expect more than 300 PMUs and 60 PDCs to be deployed by the end of the program,” he said in his presentation, noting that the “early warning” mechanism will enable WECC and WISP’s partner entities to take timely actions to that will help in avoiding widespread system blackouts.

PMU and PDC infrastructure deployment will accelerate through March 31, 2013, Maher said.

When the grant agreement was signed, WECC anticipated that the program’s implementation phase would be completed by September 2012. If approved by the DOE, the extension will ensure that DOE funding remains available through the completion of the implementation phase.

After completion in 2013, the total annual cost of the program is estimated at approximately $3.5m.