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"Higher Education Facilities: The SmartGrid Earns a Doctorate in Economics"
Author: Tysseling, John C.,Zibelman, Audrey,Freifeld, Allen,
Published In: Facilities Manager
Date: March/April 2011

Most higher education facilities have already accomplished some measure of a "microgrid" investment with building control systems (BCS), energy management systems (EMS), and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) installations. Available energy production facilities may include boilers, chillers, cogeneration, thermal storage, electrical substations--possibly new renewable resources (wind/solar/biofuel/geothermal)--and actively managed district energy (DES) and building management systems (BMS). Missing, until recently, has been a decision tool tying these resources together in a coherent, optimal control regime that allows facility managers to operate these resources in the most economical fashion, while meeting all organization comfort and operational constraints. The addition of decision logic and control regimes can transform a "microgrid" into a "SmartGrid" resource. Several vendors now offer microgrid "dashboards" as a tool to monitor and squeeze additional economic benefits from facilities. However, most of these tools fall short of optimizing facilities operations or realizing all the economic value inherent to the facilities operations. For facilities managers the world has changed. The world is virtual and digital. Information access is greater than it has ever been. Transactions and collaboration with peers is no longer the exception, but the norm. Facilities managers are adapting to reduced budgets and increased expectations as university finances continue to be stressed. Several university facilities managers have found innovative approaches to enhance their facilities' economic performance and earn new revenues for their schools. This article describes how Drexel University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the University of California at San Diego, and other institutions are doing things with their advanced SmartGrid systems today. These campuses, working with Viridity Energy, Inc., are using an automated, advanced decision making tool that enables them to sell energy, and load curtailments, to the grid. Viewed as "virtual power plants" by the grid, these resources are compensated for both generation and load curtailments. They have become active market participants selling to the grid, rather than simply passive buyers of electricity. (Contains 1 note.)

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