West Virginia looks to capitalize on smart grid technology development

West Virginia wants to be a leader in smart grid innovation, according to Governor Joe Manchin, who visited a testing facility located in Morgantown last Friday.

Electricity provider Allegheny Energy, Inc. and Augusta Systems, Inc., provider of intelligent enterprise networks, have been partnering to develop smart grid technology since 2008 at the Research Ridge Lab in Morgantwon, West Virginia. Through Augusta’s EdgeFrontier middleware and SensorPort network platforms, the test facility has developed an intelligent network, linking meters, thermostats, appliance control devices, home area networks, power line sensors, security devices and other systems.

“This project demonstrates how smart grid can benefit customers in our state and throughout the nation with improved electricity delivery and cost-effective management of energy usage,” Gov. Manchin said in a statement.

The Research Ridge facility is one of three Advanced Utility Infrastructure projects under development by Allegheny Power, all of which are located in Morgantown. The West Virginia Super Circuit is where the company evaluates the integration of advanced system monitoring and control and the Modern Grid facility tests for isolation system faults and restoring electricity service without manual intervention.

“The Research Ridge Test Facility demonstrates how Allegheny Energy is putting the ‘smart’ in smart grid,” said Patrick Esposito, chief executive officer of Augusta Systems.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) set aside nearly $4 billion for smart grid advancement, with more than $615 million for regional demonstration projects. Gov. Manchin believes the projects located in his state could mean more job opportunities, as well as a way to diversify the state’s energy portfolio.

By 2025, the state will require that 25 percent of the electricity sold to retail customers be generated from alternative and renewable energy sources. Gov. Manchin says smart grid technology development will help drive energy efficiencies and environmental improvements by allowing customers to adjust their energy usage, in real-time, based on changes in electricity price.

“Projects like the Research Ridge Test Facility demonstrate how smart grid and alternative energy projects can not only benefit customers and the environment, but also provide opportunities for jobs in West Virginia.”

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