Merkley, Wyden Announce $2.4 Million for Solar Power Grid System Development in Bend

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today that PV Powered in Bend will receive $2.4 million to develop advanced electrical grid controls and communication technologies that allow photovoltaic (PV) solar power systems to communicate with power utilities.  To develop the project, PV Powered is partnering with Portland General Electric of Oregon, Northern Plains Power Technologies of South Dakota, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories of Washington.  The award comes as part of $8.5 million the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories is investing in four projects that have reached Stage III of the Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems (SEGIS) program.

“Growth in clean energy production is crucial to the creation of new jobs and long-term economic success in Oregon,” Merkley said.  “Home-grown companies like PV Powered are leading the way, developing innovative solutions to make renewable power sources like solar energy cheaper and more reliable.”

“Oregon has long been a leader in clean energy production and the funding to improve solar power systems will only help to cement that position,” Wyden said. “This coordinated effort will keep Oregon on the forefront of production of solar energy grid technology, creating skilled jobs in the state and improving the entire Northwest’s ability to reinvent the way we power our homes and businesses.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the PV Powered project focuses on several key developments, including next-generation controls and advanced communications technologies that enable distributed PV systems to communicate with power utilities.  These innovations will allow utilities to manage networks of distributed power sources, reduce PV systems costs, and remove barriers to high levels of PV grid penetration.

The projects announced today are part of the department’s ongoing work to improve the nation’s electrical grid reliability as solar energy technologies reach cost-competitiveness with conventional sources of electricity and increasing amounts of photovoltaic solar electricity flow into the nation’s electrical grid.

Initiated in 2008, the SEGIS program is a partnership that includes DOE, Sandia National Laboratories, industry, utilities and universities.  Under the program, projects are emphasizing complete system development for solar technologies, for instance, how to move designs of intelligent system controls towards commercialization and how best to integrate expanded solar resources onto the grid while maintaining or improving power quality and reliability.  Today’s awards are from the first two stages of the SEGIS program.  Projects were selected based on the highest likelihood of commercialization of reliable products that will best enable and accelerate the integration of solar PV technologies into an intelligent electrical grid.