BPA Seeks Research Partners to Advance Technology Solutions

Up to $5 million in funding offered for new R&D projects

The Bonneville Power Administration is looking for partners to explore and advance technologies that could increase efficiencies, avoid costs and improve the operation of the Northwest electric power system. BPA’s office of Technology Innovation is accepting proposals for its 2016 research and development portfolio through March 27. BPA expects to fund about $5 million of new research next fiscal year.

BPA collaborates with electric utilities, nonprofits, corporations, national labs, technology developers and universities across North America and even internationally in research that addresses capability gaps identified in its technology roadmaps. For fiscal year 2016, BPA is seeking proposals that advance transmission technologies, data intelligence, generation asset management, and next-generation energy efficiency and demand response technologies. A copy of each roadmap is available on BPA’s Technology Innovation homepage.

BPA develops its direction with industry partners, researchers and others as a framework to help plan, coordinate and forecast technology developments.

“Our roadmaps keep us focused on research with the potential to deliver the most value to the agency and its stakeholders,” said Terry Oliver, BPA’s chief technology officer.

BPA’s current portfolio includes 60 research projects in six main topic areas: hydropower, transmission assets, transmission operations, transmission planning, demand response and energy efficiency. Partners include the City of Port Angeles, Wash.; Snohomish County Public Utility District, Deltares, Hitachi, Primus Power, V&R Energy Systems Research, the Lighting Research Center, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Iowa State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Washington, Washington State University, the U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.

BPA uses a two-phase process to select potential research and development opportunities. For consideration, applicants and their partners must be able to provide 50 percent cost share. Concept papers are due by March 27. Applications will only be accepted through the BPA Exchange website. Those who qualify will be invited to develop their proposals for phase two and submit them by May 1. Awardees will be notified in July.

If you have questions about the submission process, see the Q&A section on the website or contact Matt DeLong at mldelong@bpa.gov or 503-230-7549. To learn more about the research topic areas, contact Sheila Adel at SAAdel@Bpa.gov or 503-230-3152.

Since 2005, BPA’s office of Technology Innovation has implemented a disciplined research management approach that has led to an unprecedented level of success, including the build-out of the largest synchrophasor network in North America; the helical connector shunt innovation, a BPA-engineered technology that can up-rate and extend the life of aging transmission lines; the support of a pilot program that boosted the adoption of ductless heat pumps in the region; and an industry-leading seismic mitigation program.

The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is a nonprofit federal power marketing agency under the U.S. Department of Energy that sells wholesale renewable hydropower from federal dams in the Columbia Basin and one nuclear plant to more than 140 Northwest utilities. BPA operates a high-voltage transmission grid comprising more than 15,000 circuit miles of lines and associated substations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana with more than 480 customers. It funds one of the largest wildlife protection and restoration programs in the world, and, with its partners, pursues cost-effective energy savings in all sectors of the economy. BPA also pursues breakthroughs that can increase efficiencies, solve operational challenges and reduce costs — all of which help maintain affordable, reliable electric power for the Northwest and lessen impacts to the environment.