Portland General Electric moves home backup energy system from the laboratory to the house next door

PORTLAND, Ore. — On Monday, June 13, on a quiet suburban street in Milwaukie, Ore., Portland General Electric will remotely switch a typical, three-bedroom home from the local electric grid to an intelligent, automated, PGE-supplied backup energy system. Long-heralded as a future benefit of the smart grid, the utility-provided, uninterruptable home power supply will be a first for Oregon.

The need for uninterrupted electric power in a residential setting can be driven by medical needs or specialized uses. “PGE customers who receive in-home kidney dialysis, or operate computer servers or even customers who own tropical fish would all like to have the highest possible degree of reliability,” said Conrad Eustis, PGE director of retail technology strategy.

The system uses a new type of battery, which can store up to 30 kilowatt-hours of electric energy, and is enough to operate a typical home for two or more days. Successfully tested in a laboratory at Portland State University over the past year, the system proved its potential. The next step in developing a backup power service is happening June 13: the demonstration of the concept in a typical home. To show the system can work with existing housing stock in the PGE service area, a 1950s home in Milwaukie was selected as the demonstration site.

While this marks PGE’s first step toward a home energy storage system, the utility is already a leader in adopting battery storage. In 2013, PGE piloted a 5 MW, 1.25 MWh lithium-ion battery and inverter system at its Salem Smart Power Center (SSPC). Located in Salem, Oregon, the Smart Power Center successfully demonstrated the value of storage to the PGE smart grid. The facility continues to be a fully operational tool for PGE to help manage power supply on a daily basis – assisting with the integration of renewable power, feeder islanding, and backup power for the grid.

“Our Salem Smart Power Center demonstrated that storage provides clear, compelling, smart grid benefits, increasing reliability and helping us integrate intermittent sources of renewable energy,” said Eustis. In addition to providing electric power to the demonstration home, the new battery system could be used by PGE to integrate renewable sources like wind or solar, or to balance out grid needs during times of peak demand. These behind-the-scenes benefits to the utility would help make the cost of the potential backup power service affordable to the homeowner.

Media representatives interested in attending the live demonstration on Monday, June 13 between 5 and 6 p.m. should contact Stan Sittser, PGE external communications specialist, at 503-464-8271 to obtain location details. Because the demonstration home is in a residential neighborhood, this is a private event with limited access.

About Portland General Electric Company
Portland General Electric, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is a fully integrated electric utility that serves approximately 856,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon. Visit our website at PortlandGeneral.com.