Often called a city within a city, and standing as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) largest single institutional consumer, USC certainly contributes to the city’s energy use.

It is because of the university’s large energy consumption, and unique diversity of people and buildings combined with its electrical network that make USC a unique testing ground for an electrical Smart Grid, or ‘microgrid.’

As the world’s dependency on technology continues to grow so does the demand for energy and with it the need to improve the electrical utility sector. The Smart Grid is a more recent, innovative approach in meeting ongoing increases in energy demand while staying conscious of sustainable practices. Smart Grids measure electricity use and deliver in accordance, focusing on improved efficiency, a balance between supply and demand, and the integration of renewable energy.

A project co-led by FMS’ Energy Services at USC involves testing a small scale version of a Smart Grid. The ‘microgrid’ at USC utilizes more than 50,000 sensors spread throughout the campuses to monitor electrical use and equipment status in near real time. That information contributes largely to managing the energy footprint the university has on the city, and ultimately helps inform strategies used in energy conservation on and off campus.

Specifically by observing and analyzing how much energy is used, where and when, the USC microgrid provides energy tailored to its users while encouraging the preservation of energy consumption during peak hours, which puts relief on the power grid and ensures resilience.

As USC strives to play a critical role in innovative sustainable practices, the university has partnered with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the University of California Los Angeles, and JPL to participate in this five year Smart Grid Regional Demonstration Program. Energy Services has helped implement the microgrid project at USC since its beginning and continues to grow in its capacity of providing optimum energy efficiency. The USC team also includes Viterbi School of Engineering which is working on big data analysis and load curtailment prediction models, and the Information Sciences Institute which is analyzing messaging and conducting behavioral studies focused on load curtailment.

For more information on the USC microgrid project, updates, and related news, please visit the new USC Smart Grid Living Laboratory set to launch soon.