Pilot Evaluation of Electricity-Reliability and Power-Quality Monitoring in California’s Silicon Valley with the I-Grid® System

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Power-quality events are of increasing concern for the economy because today's equipment, particularly computers and automated manufacturing devices, is susceptible to these imperceptible voltage changes. A small variation in voltage can cause this equipment to shut down for long periods, resulting in significant business losses. Tiny variations in power quality are difficult to detect except with expensive monitoring equipment used by trained technicians, so many electricity customers are unaware of the role of power-quality events in equipment malfunctioning. This report describes the findings from a pilot study coordinated through the Silicon Valley Manufacturers Group in California to explore the capabilities of I-Grid®, a new power-quality monitoring system. This system is designed to improve the accessibility of power-quality information and to increase understanding of the growing importance of electricity reliability and power quality to the economy. The study used data collected by I-Grid sensors at seven Silicon Valley firms to investigate the impacts of power quality on individual study participants as well as to explore the capabilities of the I-Grid system to detect events on the larger electricity grid by means of correlation of data from the sensors at the different sites. In addition, study participants were interviewed about the value they place on power quality, and their efforts to address electricity-reliability and powerquality problems. Issues were identified that should be taken into consideration in developing a larger, potentially nationwide, network of power-quality sensors.

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