A Persistence Meter for Nimble Alarming Using Ambient Synchrophasor Data

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OPEN 2018
Madison, Wisconsin
Project Term:
05/15/2019 - 08/14/2023

Critical Need:

Persistent oscillations or vibrations in the power grid often indicate instability and may foretell blackouts or brownouts. The increased penetration of intermittent renewables and integration of new power electronics complicate grid dynamics, causing them to become more complex and variable. There is a growing need for technologies that alert operators of troubling oscillations and provide critical analytics and response actions. State-of-the-art techniques for monitoring oscillations under ambient conditions cannot accurately estimate the damping of underlying system dynamics. (Oscillations tend to dampen, or decay, with time unless there is net source of energy into the system.) Real-time, on-line tools using ambient data are needed to detect a weakening grid approaching instability and determine the path to restoration.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison will develop an online monitoring tool to assess the stability of the power grid. The tool will determine options to increase grid stability as well as detect and isolate forced oscillations, which are often indicative of faulty control actions at plants and can be potentially dangerous if they excite a natural mode of the system. To accomplish this, the team will fine-tune the underlying computations, develop alarm and notification procedures, and design a user-friendly and practical tool interface. This approach could dramatically transform grid stability monitoring by increasing system confidence and economic efficiency in a nearly $400 billion U.S. industry.

Potential Impact:

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s technology will dramatically transform monitoring of power grid stability.


This project will increase system reliability by enhancing situational awareness and readying recourse actions, which will ensure U.S. technological leadership in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies without disrupting grid dynamics.


Enabling the integration of more renewable energy sources into the power grid without compromising grid stability would reduce the dependence on thermal power plants for electricity generation, likewise reducing the harmful emissions that come from these plants.


This project’s successful completion and technology-to-market transition will enable more economical and secure operation of the power grid through detection and remediation of unstable grid oscillations. Operational cost savings could top $1 billion per year worldwide.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Richard O'Neill
Project Contact:
Prof. Bernard Lesieutre
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Washington State University

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