UW, Seattle City Light Partner on Solar Testbed Installation

The University of Washington is installing solar panels on three residence halls in partnership with Seattle City Light’s Green Up program to support research on clean energy and smart grid technology.

“This project will put our students in the middle of a quiet revolution, the digitization of energy,” said UW Clean Energy Institute Director Daniel Schwartz. “Setting up a major new testbed facility takes vision and partners, so we truly appreciate the way local industry, the state, and federal funders came together to support the UW team.”

Seattle City Light’s Green Up program is contributing $225,000 toward the purchase of the solar panels. This contribution enabled the UW to compete for the Washington State Department of Commerce Solar Grant Program, which is also giving $225,000 in matching funds.

The panels will be placed on Elm, Alder and Maple halls this fall, and the combined installation will act as a testbed for research on how solar energy can be combined with other demand-side resources such as battery systems, in order to provide controllable power and voltage support. In addition to the solar panels, the project will include advanced meters, communications equipment, a battery system and control center.

The student group UW Solar has been involved from the beginning, working closely with UW staff and faculty to analyze the buildings for viability, drawing up necessary plans, selecting appropriate technology, writing up requests for proposals and identifying the most competitive bid.

“An exciting aspect of this project, in addition to the number of people who helped make it happen, is the number of people who benefit from it,” said Marilyn Ostergren, UW’s renewable energy liaison. “Students gain experience they can use to promote solar installations elsewhere, faculty further their research into integrating renewable energy into the grid, and Housing & Food Services get the power.”

The solar panels are estimated to generate about 100,000 kWh per year. Once it is operational in the fall of 2016, the “control center” will give undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to observe and analyze the energy consumption of campus buildings and how the solar production affects the profile of the overall campus demand.

“Seattle City Light is excited to partner with the UW and the State of Washington on this innovative project, which utilizes solar energy to augment the utility’s clean energy supply, provides ‘learn by doing’ educational opportunities for students, and enables the UW to further its cutting-edge  grid management research that will be shared with the utility and the region,” said Craig Smith, Director of Seattle City Light’s Customer Energy Solutions Division.

Another $115,000 for the project’s smart inverters will be provided from another grant from the US Department of Energy and WA Department of Commerce. This grant supports a large joint research project by the UW, Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on transactive energy campuses, which create communication and coordinated control links among these campuses.  These links could be used to provide local or regional operating support to the power grid.

Once the solar installations are in place, UW Solar will oversee the data collection. Housing and Food Services and UW Facility Services will be responsible for system maintenance while Dr. Miguel Ortega-Vazquez of the Department of Electrical Engineering will lead the research.

“This testbed will help not only to offset the energy requirements at the University of Washington, but it will also enable opportunities to operate the campus in a smart manner, enhancing power quality and grid reliability,” said Ortega-Vazquez. “This is a new paradigm in power system operation, in which the demand-side is taking a more active role in power system management. Furthermore, it will also unlock new opportunities for applied cutting-edge research, as well as opportunities for students to directly interact with onsite renewable energy sources and smart grid technologies.”

This is an extension of the UW’s existing Green Up Program partnership with Seattle City Light, which has provided funding for renewable energy work at UW, allowing the university to develop renewable energy projects, produce educational outreach materials and create opportunities for faculty and student collaboration. The University of Washington is the single largest participant of the Green Up program.

About Green Up
Green Up is Seattle City Light’s voluntary green power program for residential and business customers. By enrolling in Green Up, customers demonstrate their support for wind power and other new renewable energy projects in the Northwest. Seattle City Light purchases Green-E Certified renewable energy credits (RECs) on participants’ behalf.  In addition, Seattle City Light invests in local education and renewable energy projects through direct grants to community non-profits, schools and public institutions.

About Seattle City Light
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to nearly 1 million Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Burke-Gilman Trail Now Open in City Light Project Area

Fresh asphalt is in place after City Light’s work along the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Seattle City Light has completed the majority of its electrical infrastructure construction activity along the Burke-Gilman Trail through the University of Washington’s west campus. 

Detour fencing, used to protect trail users during the project, has been removed from the area. Trail users may now travel on the trail without detouring wet of the UW’s Montlake Triangle/Rainier Vista area. The attached photo looks west toward the I-5 Bridge and shows fresh asphalt used to restore the Trail after construction.

City Light has been working since April 2014 on the project to upgrade the electrical reliability and capacity of the system feeding the University of Washington. The project has required intermittent detours of the Burke-Gilman Trail while underground duct banks, conduit, and vaults were installed between City Light’s substation near I-5 and the UW’s substation near 15th Ave NE. The detours have been coordinated with the UW’s own trail improvements. More information on those can be found at: http://www.washington.edu/facilities/transportation/tip/detours/bgt

City Light appreciates customers’ patience leading up to this important milestone. The infrastructure improvement reflects City Light’s strategic plan adopted in 2012. At a later date, new electrical cable will be pulled through the conduit to complete the project. More information can be found at: http://www.seattle.gov/light/aboutus/construction/release.asp?RN=311

About Seattle City Light
Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Safety First: Seattle City Light Adds Signs to Burke-Gilman Detour

Everything starts with safety at Seattle City Light. That goes for our employees and our customers, which is why we’ve added more signage to help cyclists and drivers stay safe along a detour of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Seattle City Light has been working since April to upgrade the electrical system feeding the University of Washington. The trail has been intermittently detoured. The most recent detour, west of campus, uses signs and delineated bike lanes along NE 40th Street and NE Pacific Street to separate cars and cyclists.

We’re paying attention to trail users’ and drivers’ experience with the detour and listening to their feedback.  

To help cyclists navigate the detour, we produced this video detailing the route.

Cyclist Virginia Wall responded with: “I hate the closures but LOVE your video!  It really helps explain what to expect. Thank you.”

Other comments noted concerns about turning traffic at the busy intersection of 6th Avenue NE and NE 40th Street. Our crews addeed signs to help increase awareness for both drivers and cyclists of each other’s presence.

 

Sign added on 6th Avenue NE.

Signs added at NE 40th Street.

Sign added at NE Pacific Street.

City Light is projecting its work affecting the trail will be completed by mid-February with restoration to follow. With input from customers, we’re making continuous improvements to meet our top priority. Stay safe!

Mayor Murray thanks UW President Young for service and leadership

Mayor Murray released the following statement regarding University of Washington President Michael Young’s announcement:

“President Young has been an effective and dynamic leader over the last four years, strengthening the partnership between the City of Seattle and University of Washington. Texas A&M will be fortunate to have him, and I wish him the best of luck.

“Not only is the University of Washington a premier public university, it is also the largest employer in Seattle, and an economic engine in the city. It is critical that the City of Seattle and the UW remain strong partners in the years to come.

“The next president has an opportunity to build on the University’s rich tradition as a world-class institution, bolstering its research, teaching, medical, graduate and undergraduate programs while ensuring accessibility to all students.”

 

Electrical Upgrade for UW Requires Detour of Next Section of Burke-Gilman Trail

Seattle City Light is continuing its electrical reliability and capacity upgrade of the system feeding the University of Washington (UW). The project has required intermittent detours of the Burke-Gilman Trail while underground conduit is installed between City Light’s substation near I-5 and the UW’s substation near 15th Ave NE.

This last phase of conduit installation will require detour of the trail between Latona Avenue NE in Wallingford and Adams Lane near the University Bridge. See Burke-Gilman detour map. The work has a planned start date of this Saturday, January 17 and will last until approximately mid-February, 2015.

Pedestrians will be detoured onto sidewalks while cyclists will be detoured onto pre-existing designated bike lanes and lanes to be set apart in current traffic lanes. In the latter case, cones bolted to the asphalt will separate cyclists from traffic. For roadway adjustments to protect bicyclists, see Burke-Gilman Trail detour insets on map . Signage will direct cyclists and pedestrians at waypoints along the detour route. See Burke-Gilman Trail detour signage example. 

Westbound motorists on NE 40th Street will not be permitted to turn left onto NE Pacific Street at 5th Avenue NE to accommodate the new temporary lanes for cyclists. Traffic will be detoured there and can rejoin westbound NE Pacific Street at Latona Avenue NE.

The conduit installation has been coordinated with the UW’s own trail improvements to east of 15th Avenue NE: http://www.washington.edu/facilities/transportation/tip/detours/bgt. More information can be obtained on City Light’s project at: http://www.seattle.gov/light/aboutus/construction/. Customers can also contact Patty Breidenbach, Electrical Service Representative, (206) 684-4795 and patty.breidenbach@seattle.gov.