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New Facility Central to Advanced Power Grid and Smart Buildings Research

Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall
Deputy Energy Secretary
Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall

At the north end of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's campus, where concrete cuts through sagebrush, sits a building where industry, academia and leading scientists will jointly conduct research that will change the future of our nation's power grid.

"The new Systems Engineering Building (SEB) at PNNL will help drive the science and engineering necessary to provide a clean energy future for the nation. It will let researchers here address national challenges related to the electricity delivery and energy conservation from cybersecurity to reliability," said Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall to a crowd of about 200 dignitaries, PNNL employees and Tri-City community leaders gathered at the building's recent dedication.

"The private sector and the government must work together to ensure that we can prevent and recover from grid disruptions, whether they come from cyberattack, physical attack or severe weather that is brought on by climate change," Sherwood-Randall said.

Multitude of Energy Research Resources Under One Roof

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

Behind the SEB's towering glass doors are power grid and buildings control rooms, testing platforms and a number of laboratories to address a broad range of energy challenges. The facility also features the latest in industry software and real-time grid data with access to advanced computational capabilities that allow researchers to design, test and evaluate tools and concepts in a setting that mirrors current industry conditions.

"Today is yet another example of how the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is leading the nation," said Sen. Patty Murray. "This unique facility will make major contributions to DOE's grid modernization strategy, regionally and nationally. And, in true PNNL fashion, this innovation will happen in collaboration with industry partners working with Itron, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Avista, to name a few."

Bonneville Power Administration Sees SEB as Integral to Meeting Energy Challenges

Bonneville Power Administration Administrator Elliot Mainzer
Bonneville Power Administration
Administrator Elliot Mainzer

Elliot Mainzer, Bonneville Power Administration administrator, also spoke at the SEB dedication. He said his organization has been working extensively with PNNL researchers to address the challenges facing an industry going through enormous transformation.

"At Bonneville we grapple with many of the day-to-day issues that are facing our industry, and I can tell you that our collaboration with PNNL has been one of our most fruitful working relationships—everything from energy efficiency to demand response to smart grid to our fish and wildlife program," Mainzer said. "You made a difference, and we are internalizing and incorporating your innovations into our day-to-day work. I really, really do appreciate you."

Through the SEB, PNNL is expanding its Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center to include two power grid control rooms that can be configured to accommodate a variety of industry testing needs and scenarios.

The U.S. electric power grid is the most complex machine ever built. Transforming it from an early 20th century machine to a 21st century engine for innovation represents a huge scientific and technical challenge.

PNNL Laboratory Director Steven Ashby

PNNL Laboratory Director Steven Ashby

"By linking SEB's new, high-speed data streams with PNNL's high-performance computing capabilities, we can see the grid as never before, enabling improvements to today's tools as well as completely new, predictive capabilities," said Steven Ashby, PNNL laboratory director. "The SEB enables researchers to work side-by-side with industry to accelerate these advancements, which are critical to achieving DOE's vision of a reliable, secure and sustainable power system."

View a recorded version of the SEB dedication and listen to other dignitaries who spoke at the event.

What other dignitaries had to say

Congressman Dan Newhouse

"PNNL is one of the foremost national labs in the country. It continues to make many contributions to the scientific community, here in the Tri-Cities, to our state of Washington, and certainly in support of our great nation. And, it certainly has for the last 50 years." Congressman Dan Newhouse

DOE's Pacific Northwest Site Office Manager Roger Synder, Congressman Dan Newhouse and PNNL Laboratory Director Steven Ashby at the Systems Engineering Building dedication.

DOE's Pacific Northwest Site Office Manager Roger Synder, Congressman Dan Newhouse and PNNL Laboratory Director Steven Ashby at the Systems Engineering Building dedication.




Systems Engineering Building


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