About TEES Smart Grid Center

The Smart Grid Center of Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEES) galvanizes a number of smart grid-related activities that are underway in the A&M System and brings them under a coordinated umbrella to form partnerships essential for smart grid research, education and training. These partnerships are funded through various projects in excess of more than $10 million over the next five years. The Center aims to expand on its broad range of capabilities and expertise in seven key smart grid areas: Electricity Transmission/Distribution and Production/Consumption; Advanced Data Analytics for Outage Prediction, Clean Energy Enabling Technologies; Electrified Transportation System; The Built Environment; Computer Information Services; Energy-related Markets; and High Impact, Low Frequency Event Grid Contingencies. They all come together to create an integrated infrastructure able to handle the growing power demands of residential, corporate, and public needs ranging from smart homes and plug-in electric vehicles to distribution intelligence and operation centers. A large-scale testbed facility with a smart grids control center is hosted at the Center for Infrastructure (CIR) on the RELLIS campus of Texas A&M. The SGC works with many highly qualified and experienced faculty at Texas A&M including several members of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and two former Presidents of the IEEE Power and Energy Society.

Specific goals are to:

  • Assist expanding the government and private sector vision of the smart grid;
  • Conduct transformational research to generate new concepts, technologies and integrated systems for the 21st century grid;
  • Train engineering students and professionals in electric energy-related concepts and technologies.

Other objectives involve:

  • Studying public policy implications;
  • Initiating and supporting international collaborative programs;
  • Developing partnerships for smart grid research;
  • Providing unbiased advice to industry, government and the public related to electric energy production, transport and consumption, and smart grid matters.

Achieving these goals and objectives will position the Texas A&M University System and the State of Texas as global leaders in education, research, and public service in the modernization of the electricity system, leading to job creation and increasing business opportunities for Texas and the nation.

Context

Electric energy is key to every economy and for societal prosperity across the globe. The smart grid effort is aimed at transforming this critical infrastructure into the 21st century and beyond using computer-based remote control and automation. The smart grid has been called “electricity with a brain,” the “energy Internet,” and the “Electronet.” Basically, it is about integrating electricity infrastructure and data to produce electricity more efficiently and reliably, as well as cleanly and safely for the environment. Historically, the electric grid was designed to be relatively simple, causing electric power to flow along the path of least resistance. Over the years, electricity grids became very complex with addition of the renewable generation, microgrids and active loads. For decades, utility companies have had to rely on data for the most part collected and monitored by meter readers, repair personnel, and other utility workers. The smart grid modernizes the way electricity is delivered from suppliers to consumers and describes the next generation of power systems incorporating communications and information technology to generate and deliver electrical energy. In the new context, the electricity grid is viewed as:

  • Enabling informed participation by customers
  • Accommodating all generation and storage options
  • Enabling new products, services, and markets
  • Providing the power quality for the range of needs in the 21st century economy
  • Optimizing asset utilization and operating efficiently
  • Addressing disturbances through automated prevention, containment, and restoration
  • Operating resiliently against all hazards.

Capabilities

Collaborators and their expertise can be found here.

A large-scale testbed facility with smart grids control center is hosted at the Center for Infrastructure (CIR) on the RELLIS campus of Texas A&M. More

Examples of Current or Recently Completed SGC Projects

Secure Monitoring and Control of Solar PV Systems through Dynamic Watermarking: a 4.4 million project funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) started in November of 2019 and lasts for 4 years. The increasingly wide-spread installation of photoelectric (solar) energy panels, such as roof-top installations, is creating challenges in monitoring and controlling a complex system, which is vulnerable to cyber threats. This project aims to address those problems with improved solutions. The significance of the problem is in that the physical layer includes power transmission lines, transformers, solar generation units and power electronics devices. The cyber layer includes communication, control and sensing (meters). These two layers tightly interact with each other. Hackers can compromise the PV distribution system by intruding into the cyber layer or manipulating the meter readings. So, it is expected that our PV distribution system can be immune to potential cyberattacks, therefore cyber resilient. PI:  Le Xie (ECE TAMU), Co-PIs: P.R. Kumar and Prasad Enjeti (ECE, TAMU), Dr. Marija Ilic (MIT), Mohammad Shahidehpour and Zuyi Li (UIUC), Dongbo Zhao (ANL), Kevin Ding (CNP).

Deep Cyber-Physical Situational Awareness for Energy Systems: A Secure Foundation for Next-Generation Energy Management, a $3 million project under the DOE started in October of 2018 and lasts for 3 years. The three-year $3M research and development projects goal is to use deep visibility to design a next generation secure energy management system that would enable stakeholders across energy industrial control domains to better prepare, mitigate, repair, and recover from cyber-related threats. A demonstration phase of the project is planned with Vistra Energy. Private industry vendors will be involved including S&C Electric, Network Perception, and IncSys. The work will be carried out at the new TAMU’s Resilience Lab at the Center for Infrastructure Renewal (CIR) campus that enables customized energy control system environments for experimentation in this work. PI: Katherine Davis (ECE, TAMU), Co-PIs: Thomas Overbye (ECE, TAMU),  Daniel Ragsdale (CSE, TAMU) , Ana Goulart (ET&ID, TAMU), Saman Zonouz (Security LLC), Eric Vurgin (Sandia National Laboratories), Shamina Hossain-McKenzie (Sandia National Laboratories), James O’Brien (Pacific Northwest National Laboratories), Mark Rice (Pacific Northwest National Laboratories), and Edmond Rogers (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

Deep Learning-based Detection of Stealth False Data Injection Attacks in Large-Scale Power Grids: a $360K project under the National Science Foundation (NSF) started in September 2018 and lasts for 3 years. The project aims to contribute enhanced state-of-the-art cyber-physical security strategies for transmission system operation, where results will inform solution of similar problems including cyber-physical attack detection at generation, transmission, and distribution levels as well as in communication networks, banking systems, cloud computing and storage, and other critical infrastructures.  PI: Katherine Davis (ECE, TAMU),Co-PIs:  Erchin Serpedin (ECE, TAMU) and Thomas Overbye (ECE, TAMU).

US-India Collaborative for Smart Distribution System with Storage (UI-ASSIST): a $30 million project under the DOE started in October 2017 and lasts for 5 years. The overall objective of this project is to evolve the future distribution grid that will allow the continuing increase of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) penetration towards a carbon-free electricity system. The research proposed here leads to the fully conceptualized Smart Distribution Grid that optimally utilizes Grid Storage. The development is validated using ten different DI-ASSIST testbeds, and pilot field demonstrations at 10 different sites. PI: Anurag K Srivastava (Associate Professor, Washington State University, Director, Smart Grid Demonstration and Research Investigation Lab (SGDRIL)), Co-PIs: Mladen Kezunovic (ECE, TAMU), Anuradha Annaswamy (MIT), Rob Hovsapian (Idaho National Laboratory), Kevin Davies (Hawaii Natural Energy Institute), Ahmed Saber (ETAP), Devendra Vishwakarma (GE Energy Solutions), Mani Venkata (Alstom Grid Inc.),

Timing Intrusion Management Ensuring Resiliency – TIMER: an over $4,4 million project was funded by the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) through the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability’s Cybersecurity of Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) program. The synchrophasor systems depend on the timing signals used for Phasor Measurement Unit (PMU) sampling synchronization and time stamping or recorded events. Cyberattacks on the timing signal can compromise performance of the entire synchrophasor system. A methodology and technology to detect such attacks is needed for increased resilience of the cyberphysical infrastructure. Texas A&M’s specific objective on the project was to develop timing intrusion modules (TIMs) to detect inaccurate timing signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS) of satellites and whether or not those inaccuracies are being intentionally introduced into the system. By detecting the timing intrusions, the synchrophasor systems will be kept operationally robust, which will contribute to the improved monitoring, control and protection. If such detection is not available, the synchrophasor systems can experience erroneous control actions, which in turn can lead to the damage or a major blackout in the power system. The research team was led by Mladen Kezunovic (Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering) in collaboration with Alex Sprintson (Associate Professor, ECE) / John Lusher II  (Associate Professor of Practice, ECE)  and Jyh-Charn (Steve) Liu (Professor, Computer Science & Engineering). Partnering organizations on this project are Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Idaho Power Company, and EPG.

More information on SGC projects can be found here.

Poised for Growth

Electric energy and the electricity grid are – and have been for many years – major research focus areas of TEES. The SGC is both a research and outreach entity that seeks to expand the industrial affiliates program already in place through the resources just described. Having a core group of research leaders as points of contact will simplify the process by which potential partners try to contact researchers and students. The SGC was formed to support these strengths and provide a single organizational structure to bring these researchers together.

Contact

Dr. Thomas Overbye
Director of TEES Smart Grid Center
Professor and holder of the O’Donnell Foundation Chair III, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
TEES Eminent Professor
Member of National Academy of Engineering
Tel: 979.458.5001
overbye@tamu.edu