Urban Microgrid Planned by Duquesne Light and the University of Pittsburgh

Nov. 16, 2015
News of yet more microgrid activity in Pennsylvania came today with the announcement of an urban microgrid planned by Duquesne Light and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt).

Credit: Doug Kerr

News of yet more microgrid activity in Pennsylvania came today with the announcement of an urban microgrid planned by Duquesne Light and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt).

The utility will work with Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering to design and install the urban microgrid at its Woods Run Facility, a six-building campus in Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

The partnership plans to install the urban microgrid in 2017, according to a Duquesne Light spokeswoman. Over the next 10 to 12 months the team will undertake a feasibility study that will determine the microgrid capacity and generation resources.

Another Pennsylvania utility, PECO Energy, last month won regulatory approval to spend $50 to $100 million on a microgrid project.  In addition, an advanced microgrid is under development at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard with the help of a $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.

In Pittsburgh, the urban microgrid is part of a larger endeavor by the team to help redefine the region’s energy landscape and create new products and services, according to a Pitt news release.

“Partnering with one of the most prestigious universities in the region and a leader in electric power research will accelerate the advancement of new technologies and enable the transformation of our grid,” said Rich Riazzi, CEO of Duquesne Light. “Pitt brings unrivalled technical expertise and value to this partnership which, combined with Duquesne Light’s 135 years of transmission and distribution experience, will help us develop the next chapter of electric power in our region.”

Duquesne Light plans to contribute both money and and physical resources, including $500,000 dispersed over multiple years. The money will help fund electric power research, energy efficiency, laboratory facilities, and equipment at Pitt. Duquesne also will provide its expertise to interconnect any new electric power lab facilities to the existing grid.

Team researchers will explore microgrid resiliency and the integration of distributed and renewable energy in a real-world setting. They also will study technologies that often support microgrids, such as power electronics controllers, direct current infrastructure, energy storage, and smart grid.

Gregory Reed, professor and director of Pitt’s Center for Energy and the Swanson School’s Electric Power Initiative, described Pittsburg as an appropriate site for the research given its position in energy history.

“Since the birth of the electric power industry happened in Pittsburgh, thanks to innovators like George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, it’s fitting that the evolution of the grid should establish a foundation here as well,” Reed said.

In all, Duquesne Light is investing more than $3.5 billion in infrastructure and technology upgrades between 2005 and 2020. This is the first time that Duquesne Light will partner with the Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

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