Federal grant supports $4.4M project to locate vulnerabilities in smart grid

city lights in the United States seen from space

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The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Smart Grid Center received a new grant from the Department of Energy to address vulnerability concerns in the synchrophasor systems of the nation’s electrical grid.

The grant is one of 12 given to projects across the United States as part of $34 million in federal funding through the department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

The $4.4 million project is led by the center’s director, Mladen Kezunovic, the Eugene E. Webb Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Dwight Look College of Engineering.

Synchrophasor systems are the new technology for monitoring, controlling and protecting power systems that has been recommended for installation after the major Northeast blackout that occurred in 2013.

The systems rely on the use of precise time synchronization of the sampling of power system waveforms, and is vulnerable to any timing issues that may result from attacks or design errors. The TIMER project will focus on detection of deterioration of the quality of the timing precision requirements.

The interdisciplinary team includes co-PIs Jyh-Charn (Steven) Liu, professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Alex Sprintson, associate professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Texas A&M University, as well as collaborators from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Idaho Power Company-IPC and Alstom/General Electric Grid Solutions-Alstom/GE Grid Solutions.