A few years ago, we launched the PGE Smart Grid Test Bed in select neighborhoods in Hillsboro, Milwaukie and North Portland. People and businesses in those areas responded, working with us to create a community approach to balancing energy use that was the first of its kind in the nation.
Together, we explored ways to shift energy away from times of highest demand through electric vehicle chargers, home battery systems, smart water heaters and ductless heat pumps. We tested new technology and programs to help lower energy costs and use more sustainable resources. We even tried out fun and rewarding neighborhood competitions to see what would motivate a change in how and when we all use energy.
The results over the past few years have been awe-inspiring. Together, our Test Bed community has acted like a virtual power plant, shifting enough energy during peak times to power 1,850 homes!
But it doesn’t stop at energy savings. Neighbors in the Test Bed joined us for SOLVE clean-ups, met us at farmers markets to share their ideas and ask questions and supported nonprofits like Friends of Trees, Central City Concern and Community Energy Project.
So in 2022, we opened the Smart Grid Test Bed (portlandgeneral.com/sgtb) to additional communities on a project-by-project basis. By giving more and more people the chance to participate in these innovative programs, we can take another big step forward to meeting our shared climate goals.