AGI Industry Day highlights the accomplishments and challenges in modernizing power grid

(Richland, WA) The Advanced Grid Institute (AGI) held their annual “AGI Industry Day” on Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at the Washington State University Tri-Cities Auditorium in Richland, Washington.

The event welcomed members of the power industry to interact with government regulators and academics to discuss the ongoing successes and challenges of implementing a clean, smart grid within the Pacific Northwest.  Over 170 people attended the event.  Attendees were from 76 different organizations and six countries including 14 utilities and 17 universities. Representatives from the US Department of Energy, Edison Electric Institute, State of Washington agencies, and staffers from two Washington US Senators and one US Representative were in attendance at the event.

The event opened with a panel of speakers representing the two partner organizations of the Advanced Grid Institute — Washington State University (WSU) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Sandra Haynes spoke about how the Tri-Cities offer a unique confluence of talents to support technological innovation for power research stating, “It is clear this region is ready to lead into a clean energy future.”

The PNNL Laboratory Director Steve Ashby summarized the importance of the event, saying “The advances you are enabling are going to make a difference to the world.”

Following the welcome session, the keynote panel featured presentations and a conversation with regulators from Washington and Oregon discussing the challenges and accomplishments in the area of grid upgrading.

In his comments Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission Chair David Danner spoke of the delicate balance regulators face in providing services at a low cost to consumers while trying to introduce new innovations and upgrade the grid. The sentiment was echoed by Megan Decker, Chair of the Oregon Public Utilities Commission, who added that regional differences also add complexity into where new technologies are deployed.

After the keynote, a panel moderated by Washington State Department of Commerce Assistant Director Michael Furze discussed clean energy. Industry and utility representatives from Energy Northwest, Seattle City Light, Avista, and Orcas Power & Light Co-op presented on-going green energy projects funded by the State of Washington, sharing lessons learned and the benefits of the projects within their respective communities.

The second panel featured more industry perspectives on the emergence of new technologies and projects aimed at addressing some of the challenges facing the power industry. Panel members included representatives from: Avista, Bonneville Power Administration, Northwest Public Power Association, Portland General Electric, Snohomish County Public Utility District, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

In the final session, AGI Co-Director Jeff Dangle shared the latest research coming from The Advanced Grid Institute. The research underscored the need for cooperation between policy makers, regulators, utilities, national labs and academia in order to transition to a cleaner power grid while maintaining reliable and resilient electricity supply.

The day concluded with a reception at the WSU Wine Science Center where attendees and presenters could continue the day’s discussions and make connections.

A full list of speakers can be found at the events webpage.