Active Efficiency in Action

The best way to understand the value of Active Efficiency is to see it in action. There are many examples that demonstrate the potential of Active Efficiency. Between the economic, social, and environmental benefits, the hard work that goes into making these examples successful is something to be celebrated.

Improving Resilience in Washington State: Snohomish County’s Arlington Microgrid Project

Snohomish County Public Utility District (Snohomish PUD), one of the largest public utilities in the Pacific Northwest, designed its upcoming microgrid in Arlington, WA, to meet two objectives: increase grid resilience and improve disaster recovery response. Microgrids are local energy grids which, while typically connected to the traditional grid, can “island” and operate autonomously to power a facility or service area during disruptions – especially important during events such as storms or earthquakes. But by harnessing Active Efficiency strategies such as systems integration and demand response, the project will capitalize on a lesser-known benefit of microgrids: energy savings.

Using a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS) platform, the Arlington Microgrid will coordinate demand from multiple facilities (including the PUD’s Arlington Community Office, data center, and Clean Energy Center) with the power available from a combination of the grid and onsite distributed energy resources (DERs): a 500 kW solar array, a one MW battery, and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging stations (which allow the grid to use excess power provided by electric vehicles). The microgrid can use these DERs to power the facilities during grid power disruptions.

Demonstrating the feasibility of leveraging multiple DERs – especially emerging technologies like V2G – to achieve resilience, energy saving, and decarbonization goals is critical for ensuring that an Active Efficiency approach maximizing multiple benefits is taken as microgrids are increasingly deployed in the U.S. The Arlington Microgrid will be ready for testing by the end of 2020 and will serve as a test bed for other technologies in the future; for example, the installation of a flow battery is in development. Snohomish PUD is committed to sharing lessons learned. The Clean Energy Center onsite will serve to spread awareness and educate the public on microgrid technologies, including displays on individual microgrid equipment with related technologies and tours for schools, legislators, and public officials. In addition to running the Clean Energy Center, Snohomish PUD intends to share insights from the project with other utilities and stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest and beyond, including with the Smart Electric Power Alliance.