New Smart Grid Center of Excellence unveiled

The Center of Excellence is designed to help visitors understand the breadth of technologies in ABB’s smart grid portfolio

ABB’s new Smart Grid Center of Excellence (COE), the nation’s first-of-its-kind smart grid demonstration center and verification lab, was unveiled at last week’s ribbon cutting ceremony on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus. Several local dignitaries attended the event including the Mayor of Raleigh, Nancy McFarlane; NC State Chancellor, Dr. Randy Woodson; and ABB NAM Regional Manager, Enrique Santacana. These officials as well as other attendees toured the facility to learn how ABB’s cutting-edge smart grid hardware and software solutions can help prepare cities to deal with weather emergencies.

The COE is designed to help visitors understand the breadth of technologies in ABB’s smart grid portfolio and how they can be used to improve the nation’s grid. Additionally, the center emphasizes ABB’s commitment to the smart grid and helping our customers enhance reliability, efficiency, sustainability, customer engagement, and operational effectiveness.

On the first side of the center, visitors can watch educational videos and presentations and engage in constructive discussions on various topics such as demand response management systems (DRMS), microgrids, distribution management systems (DMS), microSCADA, cyber security, and communications. This part of the center also includes several interactive areas where we can physically show how the different layers of the smart grid work together. For example, we can simulate a fault detection, isolation, and restoration (FDIR) event where ABB hardware and software work together to reduce power outages and improve reliability – a clear benefit for both the utility and the consumer.

The other side of the center functions as the demonstration and verification area. Here, we have set up a series of wooden poles mounted with ABB hardware such as capacitor banks and reclosers – just like you would see driving down the road. In this part of the center, we can actually operate the physical devices and demonstrate how the smart grid reacts and communicates to improve reliability and efficiency. Also in this part of the center, we can show visitors how customer engagement is improved by the smart grid. In a mock house, we demonstrate how common household devices such as a thermostat can be connected and controlled from a computer; this ability helps the customer track energy usage and maintain savings goals while helping the utility manage its demand load.

The COE is open and inviting all guests from large utilities to end users to the center for tours every day. For more information or to schedule a tour, please contact


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About the author

Gary Rackliffe

Hello, I lead Smart Grid Development for ABB North America. I have more than 25 years of industry experience in both transmission and distribution (T&D) and have worked with ABB for 19 years across a variety of positions. I hold a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electric power engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
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