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Drexel to Deploy Smart Grid System

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Drexel University Interim President C.R. (Chuck) Pennoni

Interim President C.R. "Chuck" Pennoni says the smart grid will allow Drexel "to apply the university's technical and research capabilities to solving challenges in our communities."

Credit: Drexel University

Drexel University will deploy a smart grid system to provide real-time measurements of the University's power usage and allow excess power to be sold back to the regional grid. The university is the first institution in the country to deploy Viridity's VPower System energy monitoring system on its main campus in Philadelphia, Pa. The system will provide real-time measurements of university power usage and eventually allow the university to sell energy back to the larger regional grid, Interim University President C.R. "Chuck" Pennoni announced today.

Working with Viridity, Drexel will install the system on a portion of its 65-acre campus to demonstrate how an organization can manage its energy costs and environmental impact with real-time electric prices. Based on the real-time pricing technology, the system will allow the university to purchase power at times of the day when demand is low and sell excess power back to the larger power grid.

The technology, known as "virtual generation," allows customers to become independent energy sources by selling excess power back to the public grid. In addition, the system will make portions of the Drexel campus independent from the larger grid, limiting the impact of the kind of cascade outages seen in 2003.

"Drexel has a long-standing commitment to apply the university's technical and research capabilities to solving challenges in our communities. One of the greatest challenges we face today is the ability to meet current and future power demand through investment in clean and distributed energy resources," Pennoni said.

The Viridity system will put the university among a small group of institutions adopting “smart grid” technology. These technologies allow independence from the national grid and significantly reduce energy waste by using computer monitoring to allocate energy resources.

“Viridity is delighted that Drexel will be working with us as our first demonstration project in the United States. One of the great transformational goals of what is called the smart grid is the ability to use advanced communications and computing capabilities to integrate distributed energy resources, both generation and demand control, into the power grid as reliable and controllable sources of power," said Audrey Zibelman, chief executive officer of Conshohocken, Pa.-based Viridity Energy.

The Power Resources Department at Drexel's College of Engineering will use the campus smart grid as a working laboratory to advance its study of urban power systems. The College of Engineering is currently studying ways organizations can effectively use solar, storage and wind resources in urban environments to economically and reliably meet power needs.

Viridity's system will be installed on three buildings on Drexel's campus beginning in January 2010 with a larger deployment planned.


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