Dan Trudnowski - Department of Electrical Engineering
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The PDCI Damping Controller Proof-of-Concept
In the western North American electric power grid, the limiting factor in reliably transmitting energy across long-distance power lines is maintaining stability of the grid. Unstable grids can result cascading outages (or even blackouts). One mechanism of grid instability involves large uncontrolled power oscillations cascading throughout the system. Engineers term these “electromechanical oscillations.” In 2012, Montana Tech Electrical Engineering Professor Dan Trudnowski, working with several research partners, advanced a concept for mitigating these oscillations thru automated damping control of a large DC transmission line in the western North American power grid. This line is termed the Pacific DC Intertie (PDCI) and is one of the largest and longest DC lines in the world, running from northern Oregon and southern California. The original concept has resulted in a large research and demonstration project funded by Bonneville Power Administration and the USDOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The team is led by Dr. Trudnowski and Dr. Dave Schoenwald from Sandia National Lab. Several Tech faculty, graduate students, and researchers from Sandia have contributed to the project. In 2016, the research team installed a prototype first-of-its-kind damping controller on the PDCI. Initial tests have shown that the control system significantly stabilizes the entire western North American grid. Research and development continues to move this new technology to an operational status.