Smarter Grid, Smarter City

By December 11, 2018 No Comments

Smart grid will be the leading edge of revolutionary new electric grid capabilities soon to be launched to achieve a set of key environmental and sustainability goals.

Next year PGE will begin building three smart grid test beds to serve more than 20,000 customers in neighborhoods in Portland, Hillsboro and Milwaukie.

The projects will integrate smart grid technologies on a scale that has never been attempted in the United States and will allow participating customers to take advantage of a demand response program to meet their personal clean energy goals.

Maria Pope, President & CEO, Portland General Electric

Many communities are striving to meet ambitious goals to address climate change, traffic congestion, emergency preparedness and their smart city initiatives. At Portland General Electric, we’re working closely with our municipal customers to help them reach their goals faster and more effectively.

By leveraging advanced communications capabilities and distribution system upgrades, customers will be able to take full advantage of smart-home technologies and have increased control over their energy use and carbon footprint. As a result of customer participation, we will be able to integrate even more renewable energy resources into our overall power supply without compromising grid safety, security or reliability.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, making an electrified transportation system critical to a low-carbon economy. Studies show that switching to electric transportation can help Oregon cut GHG emissions by 40 percent. That’s why we’re partnering with cities to add more Electric Avenue charging hubs and working with several mass transit agencies to develop Oregon’s first all-electric bus routes. In addition to reducing tailpipe emissions, these efforts will help make last-mile mobility options easier and more cost effective.

In 2020, Portland will host the world’s largest electric vehicle conference, the International Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition. We’re working with state and city leaders and other businesses now on programs, policies, partnerships and deployments that will demonstrate Oregon’s continued leadership in advancing electric transportation.

We’re also establishing strategic partnerships with cities to leverage smart grid capabilities to bolster community resilience in the event of a natural disaster. For example, we’re part of a collaboration with the City of Portland on an emergency preparedness hub to provide crucial services to Portland residents during a disaster.



The PREPHub project will serve as an important energy resource should a major event occur, and it will inform our smart grid work. PGE will provide power to the PREPHubs from the electric grid and from energy storage devices, supplemented by solar arrays and pedal power. The hub will provide a communications link to news and emergency responders; be able to recharge emergency communications, equipment and cell phones; and house first aid and other life-sustaining kits.

Many of the cities we serve sit on the edge of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. We share a sense of responsibility and determination with our local community leaders to be prepared in the event of a catastrophic earthquake or any other kind of disaster.

Aggressive climate goals, changing customer demands and advances in smart grid technologies are revolutionizing our energy world. We want to work side by side with cities from the start to help them achieve their goals and ensure our grid investments are meeting our customers’ needs today and into the future.

PGE is Oregon’s largest and oldest electric provider, serving half of the state’s population and three quarters of all business activity. We share many of the same goals and have the size and expertise to develop customized plans that meet the specific needs of each of the 51 cities in our area. More than 100 years ago, we helped bring electric access to our state. Today, we’re just as passionate about ensuring that every Oregonian benefits from access to clean, reliable power delivered through an integrated, smart grid.

PGE customers, including large municipal customers, are very concerned about the impact of carbon on our climate. They expect us to do something about it, and to play a leadership role across the state. Our approach reflects what customers want of PGE. For example, we recently committed to reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Decarbonizing our energy supply will go a long way toward reaching Oregon’s carbon reduction goals. But according to our research, more will be needed. That’s why we’re also working with city and state leaders, regulators, customers and other partners to electrify our transportation system, enhance energy efficiency and offer distributed energy resource programs to customers.

Thanks to the convergence of technology and grid innovation, we’re able to help city leaders create a more purposeful, informed, sustainable and equitable way of living for all their residents. Three examples of that can be found in our work to create a Smart Grid Test Bed, electrify public and private transportation, and support emergency preparedness through an innovative new PREPHub partnership.

To learn more about PGE’s carbon reduction and smart grid efforts, see our strategy papers at


Maria Pope is president and CEO of Portland General Electric.