USC will be one of the new testing grounds for a $60 million Smart Grid demonstration conducted by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, a project that will test the efficiency and reliability of the city’s current energy grid.
The LADWP, in partnership with USC, UCLA and the Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was awarded the funding by the federal government as part of a larger $600 million grant to improve energy sources nationwide, according to LADWP’s press release.
The demonstration is part of President Obama’s 10-year energy plan to create 5 million new green jobs and a greener environment. Over $100 billion will be invested in green technologies to accelerate renewable energy sources and clean energy efficiency across the country, with $1 billion going to Los Angeles.
USC and UCLA will be two of the locations testing out the new energy technology. The demonstration includes the monitoring of energy consumption on campus and testing of new cyber-security technologies as well as the integration of numerous plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in order to note their effect on the energy grid.
“The objective is to enhance the information that’s available on campus with the goal of reducing energy consumption,” said Mark Bernstein, managing director of USC’s Energy Institute.
Bernstein said energy consumption will be monitored in on-campus residence halls, office buildings, laboratories, retail shops and restaurants to help LADWP figure out a more effective way of reducing the university’s consumption.
“We were just awarded the grant, so we have to sit out and plan how we’re going to use it,” Bernstein said “But the whole concept of the smart grid is that there’s information flowing between DWP and campus.”
USC, LADWP’s largest energy consumer, is working to transition into one of the city’s leaders in the use of renewable sources.
“It’s exactly what we’re looking for,” said Trieste Lockwood, the campaign coordinator for USC’s branch of the Sierra Club.
USC was chosen because it represents a microcosm of the city – a “micro-grid” where testing can be carried out in real-time – and because USC has large vehicle fleets, including the Campus Cruiser and Zipcar lines, Bernstein said. LADWP can test electric charging vehicles both in a controlled corporate environment, as well as on an individual basis.
The project will take place over the next 2-3 years on campus, and though students won’t immediately be aware of the changes, eventually all students will be involved in energy-saving practices, Bernstein added.
“It’s new so students don’t know, but students will very quickly be part of saving energy on campus,” he said.
Once information is gathered and new energy-efficient technologies are introduced on campus, it could play a role in how energy is used across the state.
“We want to let the city know we are leaders towards new technology,” Lockwood said. “Los Angeles is in a great position to set an example for the rest of the world.”