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Investor-owned utility Portland General Electric (PGE) has opened its new Salem Smart Power Center, which provides an "insider's view of a working smart grid demonstration project."

Central to the initiative, which is a part of the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project, was PGE's partnership with Eaton and EnerDel Inc. PGE worked with EnerDel to outfit the center with a 5 MW lithium-ion battery system, and Eaton provided engineering support and two-way power inverters to manage and operate the energy storage system. With the new technology,  PGE will be able to test energy storage, dispatchable standby generation, remotely operated power-line switches, demand response, renewable energy integration and transactive control.

The micro-grid that has been created through the project serves about 500 business and residential customers in southeast Salem, Ore. The energy storage system works with standby generators to create a "high-reliability zone" that reduces service interruptions for these customers.

To test demand-response technologies, PGE business customers are volunteering to cycle their heating, cooling and other systems on and off throughout the day or shift their use to off-peak. In addition, residential customers are letting PGE automatically cycle their water heaters on and off for brief periods throughout the day. PGE also will be testing its proprietary Smart Power software, which brings power-generating resources online at the optimal time.

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