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Montana Tech Awarded Nearly $1,000,000 to Develop Engineering Software


10/21/2010

Butte, MT – Montana Tech was recently awarded nearly $1,000,000 from the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) under a contract to develop engineering software to more reliably operate electric power grids. The WECC is a regional entity responsible for coordinating and promoting bulk electric system reliability in the western North American power grid. WECC is a recipient of funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to install a system-wide Phasor Measurement Unit (PMU) network and develop engineering applications to improve system reliability. Montana Tech is developing one of the primary applications.

PMUs are new devices that utilize Global Positioning System satellites to time-synchronize high-speed grid measurements. Tech's software will use PMUs and advanced signal-processing techniques to estimate the stability of the electric power grid in real time. The goal of the project is to advise grid operators of possible grid instability so that action can be taken to avoid a widespread blackout. The software will be prototyped at a number of electric power control centers within the western United States and Canada. The Principle Investigators on the project are Montana Tech electrical engineering professors, Dr. Dan Trudnowski and Dr. Matt Donnelly.

"This project represents the culmination of nearly a decade of research conducted by faculty and graduate students at Montana Tech in collaboration with the University of Wyoming and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory," said Dr. Trudnowski. "The research has demonstrated and promoted the advantages of PMUs for smart transmission grids."

For more information about this project, please contact Dr. Trudnowski at 406-496- 4681.