BPA seeking research partners to improve grid efficiency

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is seeking research partners for projects that will help develop new ideas and new technologies that have the potential to improve the operation of the Northwest electric power system, including projects that can improve the transmission portion of the agency’s system.

BPA is seeking research partners in conjunction with its fiscal year 2014 technology innovation research and development (R&D) portfolio.

“This is a pretty good cycle of looking at innovative ways to enhance our operations and do things that are cutting-edge, and improve our operation in the process,” a BPA spokesperson told TransmissionHub on March 7.

The annual update of its R&D portfolio provides a forum for the agency to collaborate with electric utilities, researchers, universities and technology developers throughout the Northwest and across North America in research that addresses technology gaps and supports agency strategic objectives. 

The current research portfolio includes 51 projects intended to advance transmission power flow controls, synchrophasor data intelligence, energy efficiency and demand response, over the upcoming 2014 fiscal year. BPA will consider short-term, medium-term, and long-term project proposals for its research portfolio.

“Short-term, medium term, and long-term refer to the amount of time we expect the project to deliver value,” the spokesperson said. “Some [projects] we expect to provide results in a year or so, while others may take five to 10 years to yield benefits or value.”

Many of the agency’s previous partnerships have focused on initiatives such as advancing energy efficiency technologies and expanding the capability of BPA and other grid operators to balance variable energy resources. Some examples include development of a demand response market for Northwest commercial and industrial customers, reservoir modeling for management of hydropower production, and studying the vulnerability of substation equipment in the event of an earthquake.

Funding for the new research will total between $3m and $3.5m and will be applied to projects ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 in total cost. Research partners must be prepared to foot a portion of the bill, as the money will be used to reimburse the selected partners up to 50% of actual costs incurred as part of the project.

The provision of partial funding coupled with its screening process helps ensure that BPA is not funding duplicative research, and helps ensure that the right investments are being made, the agency said.

BPA’s Technology Innovation Office will accept proposals for its 2014 research and development portfolio until March 29. The first phase of the two-phase process includes the submission of a concept paper, as well as information about the qualifications of the individual or team submitting the concept. 

Those who qualify will be invited to develop their proposal for phase two, which will involve a full application. Decisions on funding will be made following the application process.

BPA will accept proposals and applications from BPA employees as well as from applicants not employed by the agency. More information is available at https://bpa-exchange.energy.gov/#FoaId8fcc37f5-c000-41d2-9d02-211675c66e9e.