Fluke gets work on federal Smart Grid

By Amy Rolph Herald Writer

EVERETT — The federal government is funneling $1.4 million to the Fluke Corp. for the development of technology that will help modernize and regulate energy flow for the nation’s electrical grid.

Fluke, an Everett-based developer of electronic testing equipment, was selected to create a calibration tool that will help standardize evaluation methods for electricity flows for a “smart” grid.

A smart grid offers better control of electricity from suppliers to consumers and standardizes the flow of energy from renewable resources to help prevent against blackouts and brownouts.

The grant was awarded by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, which doles out research money for projects deemed to be of critical importance to the nation.

Fluke applied for the grant after engineer Tyrone Foster read a report that exposed the lack of standards in place for planned electrical networks.

“For me, I thought that was an opportunity for Fluke Calibration, since that’s what we do,” he said.

Now Foster is heading up a team of researchers who will work on the technology. They expect to have the measurement tools developed in about two years.

The calibration technology will be used to monitor the soundness of the smart grid. Without standards in place for how the technology sends power onto the grid, the system risks expensive power loss.

Carrying energy from emerging energy sources means a higher potential for power interruptions, since electricity flows, such as from wind turbines, aren’t as consistent.

“With a (phasor measurement unit) calibrator, we’ll have a standard that can be used to uniformly evaluate the proper operation of these devices,” said Warren Wong, director of engineering for Fluke Calibration. “That could really minimize the risk of power conditions that lead to blackouts.”

The project is only partially funded by the federal government; Fluke also plans to invest $360,000 in the technology.

Read Amy Rolph’s small-business blog at www.heraldnet.com/TheStorefront. Contact her at 425-339-3029 or arolph@heraldnet.com.