Transmission & Distribution Research

What are Transmission and Distribution systems?

Traditionally, transmission and distribution systems were one-way channels that delivered electricity from the point of generation to the point of consumption. Within the Smart Grid, transmission and distribution systems are redesigned to be two-way channel systems that allow the integration of distributed energy generation systems closer to end-users as well as the integration of smart controllers and communication. This capability will empower consumers by enabling distributed energy generation systems, electric vehicles, and home area networks to provide energy use information and control.

Transmission and Distribution Research Focus

Transmission and Distribution Research focuses on projects that have the potential to enhance transmission and distribution capabilities. The goal of this research area is to work with California utilities to develop, and help bring to market, advanced technologies that improve the transmission and distribution of electricity generated from renewable energy resources and that provide tangible benefits to California's electric utility customers.

Components of Smart Grid Transmission and Distribution Systems

Transmission Systems

  • Phasor Measurement
  • Advanced Displays
  • Advanced Communication & Controls
  • Market Redesign & Technology Upgrade (MRTU) Interface
  • Energy Storage
  • Renewables

Distribution Systems

  • Distribution Automation
  • Advanced Metering Interface
  • Advanced Communication & Controls
  • Market Redesign & Technology Upgrade (MRTU) Interface
  • Energy Storage
  • Renewables

Why is there a need to upgrade California's Transmission and Distribution systems?

California's electric grid is over 50 years old and not well-suited to integrate developing distributed generation systems, smart controllers, and advanced communication technologies. Upkeep of the aging transmission and distribution infrastructure is costly to both the operators and consumers. With the existing grid infrastructure challenged to keep up with increasing consumer demand, innovative technologies offer new opportunities for consumers to save on their utility bills by managing their electricity usage with real-time information. In order to take full advantage of these technologies, the transmission and distribution systems must be updated with two-way communication capabilities between the end user and the distributor. Updating California's transmission and distribution systems will promote increased system reliability, efficiency, and connectivity.

Benefits to Upgrading California's Transmission and Distribution Systems

  • Promotes opportunities for ratepayers to save electricity and money.
  • Decreases costs on infrastructure maintenance.
  • Promotes the creation of new jobs in related fields.
  • Integrates residential renewable energy systems.
  • Increases system efficiency and reliability.

Other Transmission & Distribution Resources

ETSI Contacts at the California Energy Commission

Energy Transmission or Distribution Inquiries:
Mike Gravely
Senior Electrical Engineer - Team Lead for Strategic Planning, Energy Technology Systems Integration Research
California Energy Commission, MS 43
1516 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-5512
Phone: (916) 327-1370
Please put "T and D Inquiry" in the subject line of your email.