What is the EIOC?
The Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center (EIOC) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory brings together industry-leading software, real-time grid data and advanced computation into a fully capable control room. Shaped with input from utilities, technology vendors and researchers across the Northwest, the EIOC serves as a unique platform for researching, developing and deploying technologies to better manage and control the grid. The new technologies developed here will be transferable across the industry and address the national need for a more reliable and effective electricity grid.
Addressing a Need
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers are exploring how changes in the way the nation's electrical grid is operated can improve its reliability, lower costs and lessen environmental impacts. The focus is on developing real-time tools and supporting their integration into operating systems. We recognize and understand the need for new tools that provide not only a better view of the current power grid, but also faster and more accurate predictions of what might be happening so operators can quickly respond.
For example, we are working on a grid stability tool that will allow grid operators to "see" in real-time, the oscillations on the grid such as those that led to the 1996 West Coast and 2003 East Coast blackouts. For the 2003 blackout, the "big picture" was constructed after the event was over by manually reconstructing disparate data sets. Using computational expertise and visualization techniques, we are developing a technology to quickly analyze and display these data so that the potential for a problem can be detected and addressed before it ever occurs.
We also are developing technologies that give operators a better understanding of the true operating limits of the system in real-time so they can safely squeeze more electricity through existing infrastructure. These increases in efficiency can optimize the use of existing infrastructure and help offset the need to build expensive transmission lines or substations.
Currently, many operational limits are established due to computational limitations. This implies that excess capacity often exists during operation, yet it is not able to be utilized for fear of "flying blind."
Safe Test Beds
EIOC allows researchers to work with real data--running scenarios to determine how to increase capacity and improve reliability models, and testing new technology without the cost and risk of disrupting the system.
Because the EIOC is a safe setting, researchers can work through the iterative process of developing and refining technology more quickly. The U.S. Department of Energy and government agencies can use the EIOC to test solutions and understand the potential benefits of technologies. This facility could also be used by utilities to solve a particular problem or by manufacturing companies interested in safely testing new technologies, vetting them with users and integrating them with actual data--all within the same environment where the technology will eventually be put to use. Also, the EIOC is an ideal environment for training electric power grid operators.
Learn more about the research taking place in the EIOC.