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Transmission Reliability

Modernizing America's electricity infrastructure is one of the U.S. Department of Energy's top priorities. The DOE Strategic Plan states that today's electric grid needs to be more efficient, reliable, and secure. A modern, smarter electric grid may save consumers money, help our economy run more efficiently, allow rapid growth in renewable energy sources, and enhance energy reliability. The Department's research into a variety of tools that will improve advanced system monitoring, visualization, control, operations, and market structure will ultimately modernize the electricity transmission infrastructure to ease congestion, allow for increases in demand, and provide a greater degree of security. 

The Transmission Reliability Program is aligned with this strategic plan and focuses on three subprograms:

  • The North American Synchrophasor Initiative
  • Advanced Application Development
    • Automatic Switchable Network
    • Reliability Monitoring and Compliance Tools
  • Reliability and Markets

The Transmission Reliability program has a collaborative role with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act programs in helping to improve grid monitoring and operations and ultimately achieve the OE mission.

The North American Synchrophasor Initiative (NASPI)

The North American Synchrophasor Initiative (NASPI) is a working group of voluntary members collaborating to realize the promise of synchrophasor technology. Participants include electric power operating organizations; reliability coordinators; suppliers of monitoring and communications network hardware and software; and researchers from industry, universities, and national laboratories. These diverse partners work together to improve the electric power grid by facilitating the intelligent deployment of synchrophasor technology, ultimately improving the reliability and efficiency of the electricity delivery system. More information can be found at

Advanced Application Development

Advanced applications are being developed that utilize NASPI’s deployment of synchrophasor technology and enable wide-area visualization, monitoring and control of the electricity delivery system.

  • Automatic Switchable Network
    This subprogram builds on the widespread use of phasor measurement units (PMUs) by creating advanced visualization technologies to allow power grid operators to more effectively assess the stability of the system. The subprogram is developing decision support tools that will inform power grid operators about desired courses of action based on the results of contingency analyses. The subprogram is also conducting statistical analyses of power grid operational data to assess abnormal grid behavior. When completed, these applications should be able to provide reliable early warning, enable grid operators to monitor grid stability in real time, and allow adequate time for grid operators to take informed remedial reaction.
  • Reliability Compliance and Monitoring Tools
    The subprogram is engaged in activities to improve the efficacy of data related to both disturbance event reports and general periodic (i.e., daily or monthly) reports. For example, data filters are being developed in order to effectively analyze the enormous amount of data coming from the increased and widespread use of PMUs. In addition, grid performance metrics and visualizations are being developed to better assess grid reliability and demonstrate performance patterns and trends. By increasing confidence in routine reports and their underlying data, lessons can be learned and actions can be taken to increase reliability and avoid repeating mistakes.

Reliability and Markets

The Reliability and Markets activity researches, develops, and implements electricity infrastructure and market simulations that integrate economics and engineering principles. Research focuses on five key areas: market design, long-term supply and transmission investment, renewable integration, demand response, and environmental impacts. Researchers use models and simulations to assess how new technologies, policies, environmental regulations, or market designs will impact electric grid reliability and electricity costs before actual implementation. The activity helps to ensure electric reliability, while also improving the efficiency and economics of market operations.